Interaction Design

What is Interaction Design?

At its core, interaction design is the design of interactions between a user and a digital product or website. It plays a key role in the overall user experience design. Interactive elements may include audio, video, static visual elements, text, etc. Designers focus their attention on implementing these elements in a way that helps users achieve their goal and experience an effortless user flow. Good interaction design is a critical input for positive user experiences.

Interaction design is a design approach that is focused on building interactive and engaging digital products and services. Applications, software, and websites all involve interaction design.

5 Dimensions of Interaction Design

Designers consider these five dimensions of interaction design when designing a product or website:

1D: Words

Words convey meaningful information to users in design. For example, a “Book Demo” label on a CTA button tells users exactly what to expect when they click the button.

2D: Visual representations

Images, symbols, or other graphic representations can relay important information to users. For example, instead of text explaining the key benefits of a product, a designer might create custom iconography that clearly depicts each benefit.

3D: Physical objects

Certain objects can be used to enable users to interact with a graphical user interface. For example, you can use a stylus with a tablet or a mouse with a computer. Even using your hands to interact with a touch screen is an example of interaction design. Designers must consider the medium a user will use to interact with the screen, and then create design elements to work efficiently with that medium.

4D: Time

Media elements like animations, videos, and sounds change over time. Designers must think through the user experience and consider how long a video or sound should play to create the optimal experience.

5D: Behaviour

This includes users’ physical and emotional responses as well as how the product itself reacts to the user’s actions and inputs.

Interaction design vs. UX

Interaction design and UX design go hand in hand, but interaction design is really a segment of UX design. It is specifically focused on the interactions that occur between a user and the product. UX design is more related to the customer journey as a whole and the experiences a user has along the way.

Role of an interaction designer

An interaction designer focuses on how the product will come to life through interactions. First they must understand who the target users are and how they will behave. Then, to achieve effective and positive interactions, the designer creates prototypes and tests design concepts to identify the best interaction strategy. And, as we outlined in the 5 dimensions of interaction design, designers consider each of these dimensions to create a high-quality user experience.

Relevant Terms

User-Centered Design

User-centered design ensures that every touchpoint a user has with your product or website is meaningful.

Usability Testing

Usability testing is a product testing method where users are asked to perform specific tasks while someone observes and gathers results that will inform product revisions.

Graphical User Interface (GUI)

A graphical user interface (GUI) is an interface through which a user interacts with visual elements like icons or buttons on the screen of an electronic device using a pointer, keyboard, or touch screen.

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