Originally Posted by jungmark
Depends what you mean by "software designer". Just like with hardware, you do have to interact with the software. He may not be a coder but he can certainly say, do we need all these buttons? Is there a better way to get to this? It has to be intuitive.
Actually, it doesn't have to be intuitive. But that's another point for another day.
Many if not most industrial designers have one of two traits if not both - (1) they have some measure of artistic talent and a keen eye for geometry, particularly in 3D; (2) they are able to understand and evaluate material properties and manufacturing methods, if not actually build things themselves.
In the old days, most industrial designers were men and most had sketches of their dream machines (usually cars, but sometimes planes, boats or buildings) on their desk. Nowadays, of course, CAD and CAE software is de rigueur.
While designers are not trained in mathematical foundations of engineer, they do have to understand material properties and manufacturing method in order to design parts and products that can be machined and assembled, not to mention built economically and efficiently, as well as have the desirable durability. They also have to consider environmental factors - where/how manufacturing happens, where/how product will be used - as well as safety, often not factors that software designers need to concern themselves with.
In the old days of software, UX or UI was an afterthought. In more recent years, some software coders became UX or UI specialists. The advent of web design produced a class of UI specialists who are not coders. While this works fine for websites, it is often a serious mistake for software development, particularly when there is a real machine and not just a common computer that makes up the machine part of HMI. Why? Because only a real software developer can appreciate the layer behind the arrangement of buttons. There are factors such as latency, exception handling, security, design patterns, responsiveness (or lack of), scalability, etc. which are not common considerations in the world of industrial design.
All to say, Ive became an industrial designer because his passions and talents drove him there. They are very, very different from the passions and talents found in software designers, whether you are talking about software design in general or UI design.
Unfortunately, there is too much talk of design nowadays that it has been dumbed down to a matter of aesthetics. This makes it easy to assume that there is a large intersection between industrial design and software design. As someone else wrote earlier, that's just wrong.
Edited by ankleskater - 3/22/13 at 8:49am