Interaction Design = The design of the interaction between users and products.
Sweet, well that was easy. If you’re reading this you’re now ready to be a pro!
Just kidding, it goes a bit deeper than that, so please keep reading!
This article is my attempt to give an overview of Interaction Design with some details, but hopefully not enough to be overwhelming.
Let’s start with some basic vocab and expand from there:
- Interaction = the flow between an action and a reaction
- Design = the creation of something tangible
So, putting those together I guess we can say that Interaction Design is really the creation of a tangible flow between an action (taken by the user) and a reaction (given by the product and/or user).
Interaction Design does not have to be digital, but in most cases in the tech world it refers to software such as applications or websites.
Just like most design disciplines, the goal is to create products that enable users to achieve their objective(s) in the best way possible.
The 5 Dimensions of Interaction Design
The 5 dimensions of interaction design were pioneered by Gillian Crampton Smith and Kevin Silver.
1st Dimension — Words
- Words are interactions
- Words should be meaningful and simple enough to understand
- Words should communicate enough, but not overwhelm
2nd Dimension — Visual Representations
- Visual representations supplement words and help communicate information to users
- Examples include: icons, images, and typography
3rd Dimension — Physical Objects or Space
- Physical Objects = With what tangible tool will a user interact?
Examples include: laptop touchpad, mouse + keyboard, smartphone
- Physical Space = Where is a user interacting with a product?
Examples include: using a smartphone on a train, using a computer at an office desk
4th Dimension — Time
In my opinion, time can be interpreted in a couple different ways:
- How much time will a user spend interacting with a product?
- For these interactions, can users track their progress/resume interaction at a later time?
2. Media that changes with time. It provides visual/audio feedback to interactions.
Examples include: animations, videos, sounds
5th Dimension — Behavior
- How do users interact with / operate a product?
- Also includes reactions (emotional responses/feedback) of users and the product.
- The best example I can think of since it happens to me personally is when I’m playing a game, and it freezes or shuts down in the middle of trying to move menus. It’s frustrating enough that I’ll say “why must you do this?” when it happens.
Alright, that is a quick overview of Interaction Design. This is the first article in a series that will cover 14 different topics that UX Designers should be familiar with in order to have a well-rounded knowledge base.
For more in-depth information on Interaction Design, I highly recommend you check out the Interaction Design Foundation
If you’d like to reach out and interact, feel free to connect on LinkedIn! I’m usually happy to have a conversation :)