Interaction Design

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What is Interaction Design (IxD)?

Interaction Design (IxD) refers to the design of the interaction between users and products. Typically when people talk about interaction design, the products tend to be software products such as apps or websites. The goal of interaction design is to create products that enable users to achieve their objective(s) in the best way possible. [1]

The 5 Dimensions of Interaction Design

One way to better understand interaction design is to use the concept of Dimensions of Interaction Design. Gillian Crampton Smith first introduced the concept of four dimensions of an interaction design language, to which Kevin Silver added the fifth. [1]

You should utilize all these five dimensions to consider the interactions between a user and a product or service in a holistic way.

Physical Objects or Space

  • Analyze what physical objects users use to interact with the product? Is it for example a smartphone, or laptop with a mouse or touchpad?
  • And within what kind of physical space does the user interact with the product? Is the user for example working from an office or standing in a crowded train?

Words

  • Words used in digital products – especially words used in interactions such as button labels – should be meaningful and simple to understand.
  • Words should communicate information to users, but you need to avoid giving too much information – this might slow users down or get them completely overwhelmed.

Visual Representations

  • Visual representations concern graphical elements such as images, typography and icons that users interact with.
  • Well thought-out, picture-rich designs create more pleasing user experience. And as we all know, a picture is worth a thousand words.
  • However, remember that each graphic and image should always serve a clear purpose.

Time

  • Time here mostly refers to media that changes with time (animation, videos, sounds).
  • It is important to understand that users get feedback about their interactions through motion and sounds.
  • In addition, how much time users spend interacting with the product? Can they track their progress, or resume their interaction sometime later?

Behaviour

Behaviour includes the mechanism of a product and involves two important questions:

  1. How the previous four dimensions define the interactions a user is having with the product?
  2. What are the reactions – for instance, emotional responses – of users and the product?

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Sources

  1. IDFMads (2018). The Basics of User Experience Design by Interaction Design Foundation.