Loyola University Introduces New Interaction Design Degree

NEW ORLEANS – Beginning in Fall 2018, Loyola University New Orleans will offer Bachelor of Arts degree in interaction design. Interaction Design (IxD) is focused on the practice of designing interactive digital products, environments, systems, and services. Interaction design includes the areas of game design, web design and app design.

         The new program will be led by faculty from Loyola’s undergraduate design degree program — the only four-year design degree program in the city.

         Interaction designers focus on creating engaging screen interfaces with logical and thought-out behaviors and actions. Successful interactive designers use technology and principles of design (visual communication) to create desired user experiences, said Design Department chair, Daniela Marx. “This degree focuses on screen-based experiences – games, websites, apps. It’s for people who like to work with computers and want to create meaningful experiences for their audiences.”

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         Both Design degrees at Loyola, Bachelor of Design in graphic design and Bachelor of Design in interaction design, will learn the foundations of design, which include visual communication, technology, and conceptual and formal exploration. In upper level classes, the interaction design students will continue to explore technology and new media environments to create user experience design (UX) and user interface design (UI) while making meaningful connections between people and the technology that shapes our world. Graphic design students will meanwhile explore print, web, and motion graphics.

         Demand for interactive design is booming, Marx said, citing job opportunities in the private industry, government, small businesses, startups, and nonprofits. Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Google, Amazon, General Electric, Volvo, IBM, Walmart, Dow Jones, and countless more industries all looking for designers with these skills. According to BLOC Job Trends report, there were over 150,000 open UX design jobs available in the U.S. as of March 2015. LinkedIn had posted 2,300 UI positions; 1,800 UX positions; and 2,200 IxD positions.

         In addition to core design courses, students pursuing this program will take five courses specific to interactive design, including a UX Design Lab and a design-and development-focused course called Interactive Product Development. Through this work, students will gain a stronger understanding of the conceptual basis for designing interactive work; develop methods for researching users and projects; design a user’s interaction with interactive media and objects and design the visual face of those interactions; learn about app store guidelines and other real-world processes that they’ll need to negotiate in order to see their work go from design to reality. Students will use their existing knowledge of design processes, design patterns, and technical skills to build a new portfolio of skills.

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         In the UX Design Practicum, students will work with suitable partners in the university community and beyond to design and develop an app according to that partner’s needs. Students will gain more experience with the process of design and development. They will combine knowledge from previous classes to research and assess client and audience needs, plan a scope for the project, and go through a rigorous design and development process.

         Loyola’s Department of Design is already intimately involved with the culture of New Orleans, reps said. Design students work with partners like Bayou Boogaloo, Propeller, the International School of Louisiana, and the Historic New Orleans Collection, and have internships with the New Orleans Saints, the New Orleans Pelicans, Buku Music and Art, New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival (“Jazz Fest”), the film industry and Flatland Motion studio among many others. The new degree program will allow students to be involved with new media projects with partners such as the New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA), the National World War II museum, Tricentennial Interactive Film with Cote Blanche and more.

         “In the design degree programs at Loyola, students are challenged to explore a variety of methods and media, while engaging in a process that is collaborative, thought-provoking and imaginative,” said Marx. “A core skill instilled in students is problem-solving. Working together with peers and faculty, students learn not only to design, but to critique their own work and that of others. And in keeping with Jesuit traditions, behind all that we do is a focus on critical thinking and improving the greater good.”

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