Interaction Design

Interaction Design can be defined as the process of designing interactive digital products. Interaction Design is not limited to just websites, products, or apps; it can be applied to physical objects, wearable devices, social ventures, and more.

Interaction Design can be defined as the process of designing interactive digital products. Interaction Design is not limited to just websites, products, or apps; it can be applied to physical objects, wearable devices, social ventures, and more. It can even be used for new processes in companies or ventures.
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History of Interaction Design.

The history of Interaction Design starts in 1960 when Professor Doug Engelbart published his paper “A Conceptual Framework for the Augmentation of Man’s Intellect“.

This was one of the first documents ever written that introduced Interaction Design to the world.

Interaction Design has gone through many changes since then, but Interaction Design is now considered a subfield of HCI (Human-Computer Interaction).

The term Interaction Design became more common in the late 1990s when designers began using it as a synonym for Interaction Architecture or Interaction Strategy, which were the terms they used to describe their work before Interaction Design became popular.

Professor Bill Moggridge was one of the first designers who created Interaction Design as we know it today. He wrote “Designing Interactions” in 2007 and made Interaction Design more accessible to everyone.

Today Interaction Design is a recognized field of design. Many universities and Bootcamp learning modules focus on this as part of their courseware either independently or as part of Human-Computer Interaction.


Practical User Experience

When is Interaction Design commonly used?

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Projects that Interaction Design is used in include everything from websites to mobile apps, from product design to enterprise solutions.

Interaction Design is used by companies who want to give their users a better experience or simply improve how they do business. Interaction Design is also used by people who have a problem and they need a solution for it.

Example/Use Case


If you had a physical object with digital components, you could use Interaction Design to change how it interacts with the user.

For example, if the object was a smartwatch or wearable device that connected via Bluetooth to your phone or tablet (and) that object received notifications that were triggered by events as incoming calls or messages.

Interaction Design would be used to set up rules about how this device would function.

Interaction Design would also help determine:

  • The best way to display notifications on the wearable device so it doesn’t occupy as much screen space
  • Make it as easy as possible for a person to read the information given.
  • Help improve how humans interact with these devices by creating an interface that is intuitive and human-centered.
  • Make interfacing with your phone easier by allowing you to control the music – and consequently, audio – through the wearable device.
  • Remove the need to keep taking out and putting away the phone every time you want or need something from it.
  • etc...

When designing like this Interaction Designers try to think the same way scientists think about design, like biologists who focus on user needs and look at how to build systems that effectively accomplish tasks.

When used in businesses Interaction Designers take the point of view of problem-solving. Their goal is to improve workflows or customer experience by focusing on the interactions between different systems within their company or enterprise.


Interaction

Interaction Design: The Power Of Why.


UI/UX Rulebook

Are there any rules to consider when choosing Interaction Design?

It’s important to note that Interaction Design may not always be appropriate for your particular situation because sometimes other fields such as management, analysis, CRM strategy, etc… might be more appropriate than Interaction Design.

With that being said, the following is some things to keep in mind when working on your next Interaction Design Project:

  • Projects must involve some form of Interactivity.
  • Interaction Design is focused on interactions between users and systems, whether it’s a complex system or a simple one.
  • It is all about making interaction with the system smooth and efficient for the user.
  • Interaction Design cannot solve all of your problems.
  • It is great at making people’s lives easier or more efficient.
  • It works best with multi-disciplinary teams who are both creative and problem solvers.
  • It is great at improving people’s lives and can also be used to improve the way businesses function, but Interaction Design isn’t good at helping businesses gain new markets or revenue streams.


UI/UX How To Series

How do you actually do Interaction Design?

Interaction Design is a very broad field so the process itself depends on what you’re doing and who you are working with.

Looking at the nuts and bolts – Interaction Designers have created some common tools and approaches which can be used across many projects.

Many Interaction Designers use personas as one of their most valuable tools.

Personas are fictional representations of your target users that help describe them in more detail. It includes information about their goals, problems they might have, how they might experience those problems, etc.

Personas also include things like their job title, where they live (country) and what devices they own, etc. By using personas Interaction Designers can develop empathy for their users by trying to understand their needs and the way they would go about solving those needs.

Once Interaction designers have a better understanding of their users, they can utilize other tools such as storyboards to develop an idea for how they want to solve those problems.

Understanding this… let’s take a look at some of the key qualities required to be a modern-day Interaction Designer:

  1. Love solving problems
  2. Need to be empathetic
  3. Love to create things and build new ideas
  4. Be comfortable working in teams
  5. Have an understanding of the user-centered design process
  6. Be able to use UX Templates and prototype tools
  7. Have excellent communication
  8. Get some basic programming [ ➞ See our guide on choosing a language ]
  9. Understand your design patterns and frameworks

Design Sprints can also be used for ‘fuzzier’ problems where teams are tasked to brainstorm activities that might take longer than one day to develop an answer.

In those scenarios it’s important to prioritize those activities based on their potential impact and set expectations as appropriate – help your team figure out which problem areas will benefit most from time spent.

4. Prototype

This is where Design Sprints really stand out from other problem solving processes. Teams will use the Design Sprint process to prototype an idea, product, or feature.

Prototyping can occur through sketches or wireframes using pre-compiled smart templates on Paper, or via digital mockups using software like Adobe Photoshop, XD, Illustrator or InDesign etc.

Low-fidelity interactive prototypes built with SaaS tools like InvisionApp and UXPin, higher fidelity interactive prototypes built with tools like FramerJS and Pixate, or even real interfaces that are coded into working products.

Designers provide input on best practices for prototyping based on your current team’s workflows depending on the type of design deliverable you need for this phase.

5. Validate

The Design Sprint process ends with a demo/presentation to the client, team members and other stakeholders. Designers will work together with teams to ensure that any design solutions or prototypes are clear and concise – both in terms of layout and messaging.

Designers share best practices for demos that mirror their UX Design process but recognize the importance of working closely with facilitators to allocate enough time before the demo for final changes to be made if necessary.


UI/UX Benefits

Why do UI/UX designers love Interaction Design?

Interaction Design isn’t the only thing that makes up a great UX, but it might just be the element that sets apart those good UX’ers from the amazing ones.

Interaction Design is focused on creatives like designers and developers who love to build things and solve problems. It is the pure need to understand user’s problems and think of creative ways to solve them in an efficient manner.

A key requirement for Interaction Designers is they should be able to create their own functional prototypes like low-fidelity designs.

Having pre-built UX Templates alongside tools like Adobe XD make it much easier to create many different types of interactive prototypes that can help clarify information architecture and validate ideas.

A great Interaction designer will understand people so well they know what your users might do next before you as an Interaction Designer even know it yourself!


UI/UX Costs

Is Interaction Design an expensive exercise?

Interaction Design is not an expensive exercise. Interaction Design is often used to solve problems which are quite minimalistic in nature. Interaction Designers don’t generally need to run expensive studies as part of their functional requirements.

Interaction Designers can primarily accomplish what they need with low-fidelity wireframes, paper prototypes, and even simple interactions.

Interaction design tools like Adobe XD make it easy for Interaction designer’s to build interactive prototypes very quickly without needing to be a developer or programmer themselves.

Interaction designers will usually rely on another team of developers who specialize in Javascript or Python to do the more complex heavy lifting tasks.

Another great thing about Interaction design is that UX Templates are very Inexpensive – so if you’re just starting out with an Interaction Designer check out our UX Club for some great ideas.


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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the main purpose of Interaction Design?

Interaction Design’s main purpose is to solve problems that people experience. Interaction Designers can help build websites, apps and even hardware. Interaction Design is highly useful when it comes to web-based products like Ecommerce Stores or booking websites.

Interaction Designers often work closely with teams of other designers Visual Designer, UX designers and developers to better understand how their designs will work in combination with other elements on the screen to create a cohesive user experience.



What are some useful Interaction Design Tool add-Ons?

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What are the various methods of Interaction Design?

Although Interaction Design methods vary depending on what kind of project you are working on Interaction Design generally follows these steps:

Interact

Observe people interacting with your product, service, system… Observing helps Interaction designers understand their users better so they can implement changes that will help solve problems or meet a need. Interaction Designers consider the following:

  1. What is going on in a user’s world?
  2. How can Interaction Design be useful to people who are experiencing these problems or issues?
  3. How will Interaction Design solve their users’ problems and meet their needs better than what is currently being used, or done by hand/doing it manually?
  4. Follow-up questions.

Implement

In this stage Interaction Designers actual start building a solution that helps them accomplish one or more of the following:

  • Solve a problem a user has.
    For example: Interaction Design might improve security, usability accessibility, or ease of use for a user’s product, service, system.
  • Meet a user’s needs better than what they currently use.
    For Example: Interaction Design might improve security, usability or accessibility for a user’s product, service, system...

Evaluate & Interact

This is the final stage. Interaction Designers will be looking at how effective the Interaction design solution has been as it relates to their users’ problems/needs/implementations. This stage also determines if Interaction Design meets the aims of solving these problems/meeting these needs.

In Interaction Design the information you receive from your users is vital to Interaction Designers in order to design a solution that will help solve their problems, meet their needs, or improve workflows for them.

What are the main advantages of Interaction Design?

Interaction Design has several benefits and advantages including:

  • It helps users solve problems – useful when providing solutions for things that are time-consuming or tedious; or which can often be difficult
  • Cross-Functional – Works closely with other designers eg. Visual design, UX design, etc. to solve problems in different ways
  • Helps create better solutions faster – while considering a product/service/system etc. User Experience
  • Can streamline workflows – allowing people to achieve tasks more efficiently
  • Help ensure people are happier – by creating more job efficiency through interactions and help people do things better
  • Can be used in almost all kinds of products – opportunity to use skills/talents in many different industries eg. education, healthcare, etc. Foster collaborations/partnerships that promote innovation and creativity
  • Allows designers control – of how users interact with products/systems
  • Often makes a product or service more accessible – eg This might make software and services easier and simpler for disabled people to use
  • Solves problems in an innovative way – has become very popular because it allows designers to create new solutions to old problems in different ways


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