This special section came about as a result of the Visual Design SIG discussions held at CHI '99. In two meetings more than 50 designers lamented the low exposure of work in traditional CHI venues for human interface design from a practitioner's perspective. Steven Pemberton, interactions Editor-In-Chief, offered the opportunity to create a special issue of interactions on the topic. At that moment all present took a large virtual step backward, and I found myself in the position of pulling together a proposal and making it happen. To that end, companies that produce on-screen interfaces, and schools and universities that produce human interface designers, were invited to share their design practices with the interactions readership.
This section is designed to be read non-linearly. Each brief contains sections on design philosophy, design process, and an illustrative example. Interviews with designers and meta-commentary "threads" are included. I owe an enormous debt of thanks to all of the contributors who took time from their busy schedules to contribute these briefs, and special heartfelt thanks go to Robin Jeffries, Gillian Crampton Smith, and Austin Henderson who did a truly extraordinary job threading the contributions together. I also give special thanks to my QuickTime colleagues at Apple, Jim Batson and Jeff Mitchell, who helped pull together the interviews, and to the inexhaustible patience of Jennifer Bruer and Ann Quigley of the ACM, who shared the Managing Editor responsibilities for this issue.
I feel the collection presented here is nicely balanced between design for traditional computing platforms, information appliances, and special purposes; and the juxtaposition of academic and industry briefs is informative and sometimes surprising. interactions welcomes your feedback at email@example.com; please take advantage of this opportunity to let the editorial staff know your reaction and whether you'd like to see more of this type of practitioner exposure.
As a practicing designer I'm always interested in how others approach their work, and whether I am facing the same trials and tribulations as others practicing in this discipline. I hope that the briefs that follow illustrate how you might augment your own design praxis; how you might confirm that you are "doing the right thing;" or maybe even give you an idea or two on where you might like to work. After some months of developing submission guidelines, cajoling contributors, reviewing, editing, and exhorting, herewith is the result. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did bringing it to you.
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