Tom Chi  

Critically Acclaimed

February 24th, 2004 by Tom Chi :: see related comic

Among the general populace, there is this notion that HCI/design gurus are themselves good designers. Nothing could be further from the truth. Design gurus are people who *write* well about design, and are good at explaining design. But this skill is completely unrelated to design itself.To offer an analogy: think of your favorite movie critic or academic film theorist. These people know film. They write amazingly insightful articles on the tiniest details explaining clearly what is successful or flawed about a film. But can they direct? Usually no. The same is true with HCI gurus. They have given us much in the way of explaining how good design does what it does, and have offered up sensible approaches and methodologies. Yet, only a subset have significant presences online, and those presences rarely exhibit exemplary design (I’m not going to name any names).

Now, to be fair, the personal pages of these gurus are often side projects which do not warrant the same level of attention to detail that they might bring to a consulting effort. Also, not all gurus do web, so expecting their web presences to be solid may be asking too much. But mitigating factors aside… the fact remains that most gurus are not good designers. Period. Let the myth be broken.


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OK/Cancel is a comic strip collaboration co-written and co-illustrated by Kevin Cheng and Tom Chi. Our subject matter focuses on interfaces, good and bad and the people behind the industry of building interfaces - usability specialists, interaction designers, human-computer interaction (HCI) experts, industrial designers, etc. (Who Links Here) ?