Understanding Interaction Design
In today’s digital landscape, where every experience happens at the click of a button, a person’s interaction with a product or service, tends to hold prime importance. Designers look to include the interaction design approach to fluid life-like user experiences by ensuring people have a wholesome understanding of what they’re interacting with.
So, what exactly is interaction design? Let’s have a look.
While the roots of interaction design lie in web and graphic design, it has successfully managed to develop into a realm of its own. Good interaction designs contain clearly defined goals that are simple, have a strong purpose, and have an intuitive screen interface. Instead of only concentrating on the format and design technology for its usage, interaction design also incorporates a strategic approach to how users engage in an experience and how it may be handled.
Interaction designers design digital products for consumers. A good interaction designer usually possesses computer software acumen, technical knowledge, effective communication, interpersonal skills, analytical thinking, and attention to detail.
Interaction as a part of UX Design
Although interaction design is often used interchangeably with UX design due to its overlapping characteristic, they aren’t really synonymous. While UX designers are responsible for all components of a product or system that users interact with, interaction designers are primarily concerned with the interaction between people and computers, often referred to as 'human-computer interaction.’
However, UX design and interaction design are somewhat connected, as well, since it is almost impossible to create a good interaction design in seclusion of UX. Interaction design is an integral part of UX. It explores the idea of whether a user will interact with a product or not, by echoing journey maps, customer insights, and user personas. UX design is what eventually paves the way for interaction design.
Interaction design makes use of insights from UX to design mock-ups, prototypes, and blueprints and ensures that the product being designed is user-friendly, learnable, and helpful.
At the end of it, everything is a user experience and interaction design is a subset of UX hence UX designers could be interaction designers as well.
Five Dimensions of a Good Interaction Design
The more efficient and understandable the content, the greater would be the satisfaction of the user. Understanding interaction design language requires familiarity with its five dimensions. These are methodologies that almost every interactive designer depends on.
By taking into consideration these five dimensions, interaction designers can create a holistic experience for users to interact with the service or product being designed for them. The five dimensions of a good interaction design include - words, visual representations, physical objects/space, time, and behavior.
Words — contain text that help in conveying an adequate amount of information to users. Words that are used for interaction, such as CTVs, buttons, labels, status messages, etc need to be meaningful and easy to understand. They need to be able to convey to users without overpowering them with excess details. Often, words have the ability to ease the experience for a user, when interacting with a product.
Source: Baunfire Portfolio Review ‘22
Visual Interactions — contain icons, typography, images as well as other graphics that a user interacts with. These usually supplement the words used to convey facts to users. Visual interactions are mostly intuitive in nature and enable users to interact with designs just as seamlessly. These help to grab the attention of the user and ensure they interact with the motion design or words that follow.
Physical objects/space — appears in every device and comes in different dimensions as well. While having a good visual is a necessity, the wrong placement of it holds minimal impact. Cluttered designs tend to harm interactions and make it difficult for people to interact with an app/website. These tools enable a user to engage with the product and achieve the end goal. A person’s physical environment too can affect how they interact with a website, which is why businesses should make these considerations in designing interactive experiences as well.
Time — helps people understand the visual changes in a UI while enabling users to follow their progress. It helps in referring to the view that media might change over a period of time and that sound does play a crucial role in how a person might navigate and interact with a design. Also, time as a key factor helps in understanding how much time a user spends interacting with a product and how quickly they’re able to pick up on the interactions at a later point in time.
Behaviour — consists of both actions as well as reactions of people. It is what describes the relationship of the interaction with users. In other words, how do the other four components work jointly to influence a user’s interaction with a product? The behavioral dimension also considers emotional feedback from users and forms new recommendations from the given feedback to provide an enhanced user experience.
Interaction design is an iterative process in itself and it focuses on creating comfortable media interactions between humans and software and product designs. A solid understanding of end-users will aid in this regard, even though it is difficult to be certain about how a user will interact with a product. That being said, staying true to the attributes mentioned here leads to a good interaction design.
Design is a dialogue in itself and it happens in-between a user and the web product being used by them. When a person interacts with a service, they prefer having frictionless interactions and that becomes possible when a designer designs a comfortable interactive experience. However, it is imperative to keep the experience as narrative and restructured as possible to ensure the interaction is engaging and not uncomfortable. While good design in itself gives a very intuitive experience, it is the ability to freely interact with it that makes the whole experience complete.