Introduction

What started as a simple web design during the internet revolution, the career in Interaction Design has evolved by leaps and bounds in the current digital era of mobile devices and applications. This article will provide an in-depth overview of Interaction Design and what one should keep in mind before pursuing a career in the said field.

  1. What is Interaction Design?
  2. Interaction Design Principles
  3. How to Conduct Design Research?
  4. Interaction Design Model
  5. Explaining Interaction Design Definition with a Sample Use Case

1) What is Interaction Design?

Interaction Design (IxD) in a product defines the process of creating, governing, and managing the interaction between the product and its end-user. In simpler terms, as an interaction designer, you are responsible for creating and managing meaningful interactive experiences between the product and its users. 

Consider the following interaction design examples: Your product (an application) is made accessible to users on multiple devices, such as smartphones, iPads, Laptops, and PC. Customers using your application can interact with the product differently on different devices. For instance, users tend to use their thumb to scroll on their smartphones, whereas they use their index finger to scroll on their iPad. Similarly, touch-pads on laptops can be much different when compared to a mouse on a PC. As an interaction designer, your goal is to understand all these different possible interactions and enhance your application in such a way that users are comfortable while using your application on any device.

2) Interaction Design Principles

Interaction Design is viewed as a part of User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI) designing in many product companies. As a designer, keep an eye on the following 5 principles to understand and develop the key interactions between your product and its users:

  • Make the interaction as natural as possible – The user shouldn’t have to press too hard on the screen to open a page. At the same time, they shouldn’t accidentally open the page while simply scrolling. The thin line in between is where a successful interaction design lies.
  • Make the user feel like they’re in control of your application – Understand and analyze how each user interacts with your product. If customers are using your application on a very old smartphone, develop a custom interaction design model for similar users. 
  • Understand the usability and fine-tune your product – Are the users scrolling through the posts on your app often? This indicates users are finding it hard to locate their favorite posts. Now, as an interaction designer, you could make sure the most relevant posts are more accessible with comparatively less scrolling.
  • Keep an eye on feature engagement – At one point in your product lifecycle, you will notice that the majority of users may engage with a specific feature/functionality more often. In such cases, understand the user metrics, and improve the user interaction of that feature. 
  • Maintain a consistent minimalistic design – As your product’s user base starts to grow, the majority of users tend to get used to the app layout, design and features so much that a slight change in the experience could throw them off-guard. Understand what works well, and maintain consistency even while upgrading those features.

3) How to Conduct Design Research?

The primary goals of interaction design aren’t necessarily restricted to just designing; rather, it is also important to research your product features among the audience and improve upon them. Nowadays, all mobile apps are data-driven, meaning companies invest a lot of time and money in gathering user metrics and keep shaping their product to meet customer expectations. 

There are tons of data analytics tools available, such as Mixpanel, UXCam, which help you understand how users interact with your product. As an interaction designer, what are some pain-points you need to consider while researching a feature?

  • Collect & organize your user data – App analytics tools, such as UXCam, give you an actual visual representation of how users interact with your product features. With the help of these tools, gather, store, and categorize each micro-interactions on your app. 
  • Set a Research Objective – Now that your data is gathered and organized, what is the next step? You can’t simply review millions of data entries to find a sudden breakthrough. Set a clear objective with your team (or with yourself) before digging through the data. 
  • Recover key findings & Understand the Insights – Consider the following use case, for instance: From the data collected, the heat map indicates that more users accidentally touch an area on the app which they don’t intend to, and it causes confusion. To improve this interaction, in the next product release, you decide to keep this app area empty so that even if they accidentally touch it, they won’t be redirected to the wrong page.
  • Present your key findings to the stakeholders – Now, business stakeholders don’t often understand the design terms and parameters. Hence, it’s essential to present your findings and proposed updates in an easily readable format for approvals.

4) Interaction Design Model

The interaction design model varies based on the product which you are working on. Usually, a seasoned designer would set and predefine design models and objectives based on the product feature which their team would be working on.

Developing a design model requires a lot of patience. You should first understand your target audience, user goals, customer pain points, and scope, and align them with the business objective. Usually, a design manager establishes interaction design models around the following success metrics:

  • Discovery & Customization – Are the users finding what they are hoping to with as minimal effort as possible? How can we further reduce their effort?
  • Productivity – How much time does an average user spend on your app? Within that time frame, how long is ideal? How can we make the app further engaging?
  • Competitors – What is my competitor doing differently than my app? What is the workaround to overcome this roadblock and gain their traffic?
  • Turn Around Time (TAT) – How much time does a page or a feature take to load for a user? How are the same criteria observed with devices having a slower internet connection? What is the turnaround time when the user doesn’t manually clear their cache memory?
  • New Customers – How often my app attracts new signups? How active are they as soon as they sign up? Which pain points can I improve to increase the chances of more new users?

5) Explaining Interaction Design Definition with a Sample Use Case

Consider a food ordering mobile app. You’ve launched a prototype among a selected audience and are working towards scaling up the UI via improved interactive designs.

  • Step 1Gathering User Interaction Data – Your product analyst gathers all the required information via different analytics tools and hosts the data in a common repository. As part of the UI Team, you select and organize the UI related data for your design purpose.
  • Step 2Set a Common Objective – As an Interaction Designer, you want to understand certain pain points on the app where the user gets bored or annoyed and closes the app.
  • Step 3Research and Identify – You noticed that 90% of active users drop-off from the app before placing the order on the Cart screen. You were able to replicate this problem on your device and understand that users get confused at this stage because the “Place Order” button is too small, and users are finding it hard to select this option. So, they close the app at this point, which is a direct negative impact.
  • Step 4Update the app’s interaction design – As part of your design solution, you increase the size of the “Place Order” button so that it’s easily accessible. As a workaround, you also place an instructional design flag on top of the button, which temporarily teaches the user how to place an order.
  • Step 5Presentation – You present your findings, solutions, and workaround to the key business stakeholders and get the feature signed off.
  • Step 6Feature Launch – You launch the upgraded app with a new solution and repeat the process from Step 1 with different objectives.

Conclusion

Creating an interaction model is a foundation for any application and mobile app in general. The reason is pretty straightforward because each user tends to interact with your product differently.  In the current scenario, a product business invests in front-end, UI, and interaction design as much as they invest in the latest tech stack to handle their services. Hence, Interaction Design or Design Thinking, in general, is always a viable career path for beginners who are looking forward to being creative.

Innovation management is not just about managing the idea and its planning but has much more to it. If you have a path-breaking idea, it will need the nourishment of proper management to flourish. So, it becomes paramount to learn the entire innovation management process for successful execution. If you want to make a career as a Creative Leader, Jigsaw Academy’s 5.5-month PG Certificate Program in Design Innovation and Strategy can be of help!

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