Noah Glaser

PhD Candidate

Interdisciplinary Interaction Design: A Visual Guide to Basic Theories, Models and Ideas for Thinking and Designing for Interactive Web Design and Digital Device Experiences

I was having a back and forth text exchange with my dissertation chair, Dr. Matthew Schmidt about books related to Design Thinking and Interdisciplinary Design when he highly suggested that I read Interdisciplinary Interaction Design: A Visual Guide to Basic Theories, Models and Ideas for Thinking and Designing for Interactive Web Design and Digital Device Experiences by James Pannafino. He said that the book was an easy read and that I could probably get through the whole thing in a morning. Being the quick to please studious graduate student that I am, I quickly pulled up the Amazon app on my phone and placed an order for the book.

A few days later, the book arrived in the mail and I decided to sit down and read it while I drank my morning coffee. Here is my quick review and some thoughts:

First of all, yes, you can easily get through this book in an hour or two. As the title implies, Interdisciplinary Interaction Design is more of a visual guide than anything. James Pannafino is a faculty member in the Art and Design Department at Millersville University where he teaches graphic and interactive design courses. He uses this experience to compile a list of design theories, models, and topics that can be readily visualized and briefly explained – usually in 1 or 2 pages per topic.

This approach chunks the content into an easy-to-digest format that effectively introduces the reader to some of the most critical concepts they may encounter across a range of design contexts. This book is a wonderful introduction to these topics and would be best served for a new designer with interest in learning more about interactive design. The topics are not fully fleshed out, but they give ample detail to provide examples and a starting point to seek out further information. It can in many ways be seen as a visual dictionary for the field.

If you are a seasoned designer of user experiences you may find this book to be a tad simplistic or shallow. While providing some great visual examples of design principles, it does not go into any detail on the theories that are being instantiated. Because of this fact, I suggest using the book as a primer to interaction design and not as a go to source if you are trying to solidify your references list. My recommendation is to buy it, keep it on your shelf, and to loan it out to your one day graduate student who is designing technological learning platforms.

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