Learn what Interaction Design is and what the applications of this area of ​​design are – WAU

Interaction Design is the part of IT that studies, plans and applies points of interactivity in digital and physical systems. Also known as interaction design, or IxD design, it aims to optimize the relationship between the user and the product.

The desire to improve the user experience so that he has good experiences with a certain product, in order to spend more time using it, is a constant concern of those who create digital products.

This search originated some new areas of knowledge, such as Interaction Design and experience design. Although they have similar goals, they have conceptual differences, although some claim they are the same.

Interaction Design studies aspects such as usability, graphic design, functionality and readability to deliver interactivity in order to get more attention from people for products, which is great in areas like marketing and sales.

In this article, better understand what Interaction Design is and learn what its benefits are. For this, we will go through the following topics:

Interesting, isn’t it? Keep following!

What is Interaction Design?

Interaction Design is an area of ​​IT – and also of design – responsible for studying, planning and applying points of interactivity in digital and physical systems, aiming to optimize the relationship between the user and the product. It is also known as interaction design, or IxD design.

The idea is that people have contact with digital products in a simple, intuitive and objective way. For this, the interaction designer looks for ways to predict how people will interact with the system he is designing.

Despite being a relatively new area, those who want to invest professionally in Interaction Design need to know different fields of study, ranging from knowledge in design and programming to data processing.

For this, interactivity, which is the main concern of Interaction Design, needs to be done in a way that is clear to the user what he needs to do. And since this involves studying people’s experience with the system, it is common to relate Interaction Design to experience design, or user experience design.

The relationship between Interaction Design and experience design

The relationship between these two fields is not exactly clear, not least because they are new areas and are commonly involved. The limits of the difference between them are not clearly defined, so some experts claim that they are the same, while others claim that Interaction Design is a subdivision of user experience design.

This is because user interaction with the system is also the responsibility of UX design, but it is also concerned with other areas, such as information design, which is responsible for designing how the information generated in the systems should be stored and organized.

It can then be said that UX design is a broader area of ​​the study of delivering “usable” system to users.

In practical cases, speaking of large projects, Interaction Design is responsible for creating wireframes, mockups or prototypes for websites, while the other professionals are responsible for doing general planning and creating the structure.

Wireframes are a graphical representation of the arrangement of items in the system. As it is just a draft, there is not necessarily a commitment that they will look like the final version of the product.

In fact, they are used to define the concepts that need to be inserted in the project design and not to show how the final design will look.

Mockups are more realistic versions of the project. It is a photo or image of how the project will look after it is ready.

As for prototypes, they have the same objective as mockups, with the difference that they are a test version of the project, in which there may already be interactions. However, in this case there is no commitment to the truth, that is, the data used is not real. On the contrary, the idea is to test the limits of the project.

What are the applications of Interaction Design?

The applications of Interaction Design are varied, since it is responsible for several steps that, together, guarantee the best possible interaction between users and the system.

IxD is concerned with the interface and the impact it causes on users and the system itself. It also pays attention to social aspects of the product in the public’s life, including emotional relationship that can originate from itafter all, this is also part of the interaction.

The products that IxD works on can be virtual games, applications, websites, banking systems or any other project in which it is necessary to create an environment as interactive as possible to meet the preferences of users.

It is important to note that there may be confusion as to who would be the real customer of Interaction Design. Who finances the project is the customer of the interaction designer, while the users are customers of the system.

Like this, the program should be designed for users and not for project financiers, who should be aware of this difference, since some may be dissatisfied with the way the project is being planned.

And as we said at the beginning of the article, there are some areas that are within the competence of Interaction Design. Let’s comment a little on each one. Check out!

Readability

IxD must ensure that the product created is readable for users, that is, it must be easy to understand and interpret by those who will use the product. For that, one must think about design, layout of spaces and choice of font, icons and symbols.

Usability

Usability has to do with the user’s ease of handling the system. The easier it is, the more usable, and the more users will be able to use the product. To demonstrate usability before launching the system, the interaction designer must use tools such as wireframe, mockups or prototypes, which we showed in the previous topic.

Functionality

The functionality has to do with the utility of the program, in other words, it needs to be useful and deliver the result expected by those who will use it. Therefore, it is recommended that those who do Interaction Design understand at least a little bit of programming, to ensure that the delivery is the best possible for the user.

Programming

Speaking of programming, we will emphasize again the need for the interaction designer to know how to program in several languages, especially front-end. This is because, in addition to ensuring the functionality of the project, it also needs to make sure that the system does not fail and is safe and fast.

Although the system programming is not delegated to the IxD designer, it is his responsibility to test and deliver a product with the best interactivity possible.

Beauty

Beauty, or aesthetics, is part of legibility, since the product needs to be beautiful to be readable. However, beauty cannot take into account just legibility. It must also be aligned with the public and the proposal.

To observe all these factors, IxD takes into account the 5 dimensions of Interaction Design proposed by Gillian Crampton Smith and Kevin Silver. Such points must be observed in all projects involving IxD.

Are they:

  1. words;
  2. visual representations;
  3. physical space or objects;
  4. time;
  5. behavior.

The 6 fundamental principles of interaction, outlined by Don Norman, must also be considered. They are as follows:

  1. visibility;
  2. feedback;
  3. restrictions;
  4. mapping;
  5. consistency;
  6. affordance and signifiers.

Affordance is a concept that has no direct translation into London, so it is kept in English. It is used to represent characteristic attributes of some object, capable of generating a specific interaction.

What are the benefits of IxD?

The biggest benefits of investing in Interaction Design are in the attributes it brings to the project. In other words, an interaction designer guarantees a beautiful, easy to use, useful and effective project.

In addition, the adoption of IxD in a project results in best possible communication between the interface, usability and product idea, increasing the chances of users getting involved.

By having a team or a professional focused on delivering interactivity to the user, avoid creating projects that, although effective, are ugly or difficult to understand for customers.

Where can Interaction Design be used?

Any project should have a professional – or a team, depending on the size of the project – responsible for observing the Interaction Design and being aware of the factors that are crucial for IxD. This guarantees better products and, consequently, better experiences for users.

The IT area, especially in the case of projects that involve the creation of software or other digital products, are the biggest clients of IxD. But design firms and companies operating in marketing and advertising are also using Interaction Design to create products.

And with the expansion of interactive materials, mainly in marketing and sales, the trend is for the Interaction Design area to become increasingly important in projects.

Speaking of interactivity in marketing and sales, check out the article where we explain what are the main types of interactive content that are trending in generating more leads!