Situational Creativity; or the Rashomon Effect in Interaction Design

Session Title

Situational Creativity; or the Rashomon Effect in Interaction Design


Barbara Holmes, ISITE Design

Session Type: Presentation

For every situation there is a context and a set of perceptions and expectations, all of which enable a story to be told. But is it the same story? As Akira Kurosawa so artfully explored in his film Rashomon (1950), it depends on who’s doing the talking (and the listening). And when it comes to interaction design, the same holds true. An interaction designer’s project role depends on the scope, the team, and the constraints. One day you’re working on a marketing website, the next on a digital experience for teens, and the next on a software app for a large IT department. Each project is a confluence of different stakeholders, teams, requirements, budgets and timeframes. And each one demands a different set of deliverables, processes, and ways of working.

How do you flex without actually having multiple personalities? Situational creativity draws from principles of situational leadership, project management, instructional design, interaction design and information design. Learn techniques that help IxD practitioners put their project puzzles together and tell the best story.


Barbara Holmes
Barbara has been working in interface design and content development since 1989, when she participated as a lead instructional designer in the development of a series of computer-based, laserdisc (who remembers those?) training courses for Nissan Motors. Since then, she’s worked as a freelancer, on staff, and at agencies, designing a wide range of digital training and simulations for the military, medical, oil extraction, automotive, financial, high tech, higher education and public non-profit sectors. During the last nine years she’s transitioned her focus from pure instructional design to information architect/interaction designer, and now works in the agency/vendor world. Currently a Senior Information Architect at ISITE Design in Portland, Oregon, she unites her passions for user-centered design and a deep love of meaningful content to teach, preach and practice usability, plus design interfaces for software applications, social networking, B2C and B2B websites. She is a senior member of the Society for Technical Communicators and also a member of ASTD, CHIFOO, and UxDA in Portland. A lifelong learner, Barbara has completed training in usability techniques, project management, instructional design and interaction design techniques from industry conferences. She received an undergraduate degree from University of California, Berkeley and a graduate degree from San Diego State University.