As apps and websites become more interactive than ever before, it has become imperative for designers to have a clear grasp of what interaction design is really about. The focus has shifted from traditional approaches to web design to more engaging and interactive interfaces.
Interaction Design in Simple Terms
Simply put, interaction design refers to how the interaction between the user and the app or website is designed. When considering interaction design, one must always ask the question: How do I make it so that the user will be able to achieve their goal or purpose in the best and easiest way possible?
Whether you are doing a website refresh, a complete redesign, or even building a new website from the ground up, interaction design should be taken into consideration. Here are some of the characteristics of interaction design that you should remember:
It Should Be a Goal-Driven Design
Incorporate user insights into your design to make it effective. You can make use of popular user experience processes to guide you, like having a user persona that you’ll then visualize in a user scenario. This will help you ‘see’ how a user interacts with your website in certain situations. You may also use journey maps. By using these processes or tools, you would be able to anticipate possible constraints, solve them, and design your website with these in mind.
It Should Be Easy to Use
Usability is not an option – it should be the minimum requirement for every website or app. Users don’t have a problem leaving a website in seconds if they find it hard to use. The key is to make it effortless for users to navigate and do what they want to do on your website.
It Should Be Familiar
A website is not a place for complex elements. Good interaction design is one that is consistent and even familiar that a user won’t have to stop and wonder how they’re going to go to other pages or check out other elements of the website.
Diving Into the 5 Dimensions of Interaction Design
If you really want to understand how it works, learning about the five dimensions of interaction design can help you a lot. The first four dimensions were first introduced by interaction design expert, Gillian Crampton Smith, and the fifth one was added by senior interaction designer, Kevin Silver.
Very few things have as much power when it comes to communicating with users as words. The “right words” can have such a big impact and make all the difference, especially when they are in the right spot. The right choice of words is especially important if they are going to be used for button labels and other interactive elements. Make sure that you keep them simple yet striking. Choose words that are not confusing – provide enough information but not so much that the user will be overwhelmed.
D2. Visual Representations
You already know that standout visual content can make any website more engaging. Videos are popular these days but other visual elements matter, too, including images, icons, and typography, among others. Visual representation can be so effective that words may not be needed at times, especially if the users are really familiar with the visual elements you use.
D3. Physical Objects
Physical objects here means the devices and accessories used by the user when they interact with your site. Whether they’re on a smartphone, a tablet, or a laptop, and whether they’re using a physical keyboard, a mouse or a touchpad, you have to make sure that your website is designed so that it works across all these devices and that interaction is still easy and enjoyable for the user. In any updates that you make on your website, never neglect this aspect otherwise user experience will be affected.
This dimension refers to animations, audio, video, or any media that changes over time. These are elements that when used the right way can excite and engage users effectively. Be careful when you incorporate these elements, though, as users still wouldn’t want to wait for animations that take too long to get to the end.
Behavior encompasses how the website or app actually behaves with certain actions – how it reacts, how it performs operations, and more. For instance, when the user completes a task, is there a confirmation message? How do users navigate and perform actions? Do they need to tap or swipe? All these things fall under this dimension.
How to Improve Usability With Interaction Design
1. Use Interaction Design to Guide Users Not Confuse Them
You can make use of interaction design to help the user make a decision or to help them find what they want or need. This is a practice of discipline – keep yourself from adding unnecessary interactive elements that can be confusing to the user and affect the website’s usability.
2. Use Interaction Design to Educate Users
Not all visitors will know exactly what they’ll find when they go to your website. Make sure that you have sufficient information to help customers but not too much that they’ll feel overwhelmed.
3. Use Interaction Design to Evoke User’s Emotion
As you know, emotion is what’s behind most decisions made online. One of the easiest ways to market a business’ website is to tap the site’s visitors’ emotions. Use interaction design to thrill and excite users. Use words and visuals not to enumerate the features of the services or products offered but rather to give users a glimpse of how their lives can be changed for the better when they take certain actions like subscribing to your newsletter or making a purchase.
Final Thoughts: How Interaction Design Improves Usability
The effectiveness and success of any website highly depend on how great the interaction is between its elements and the user.
You can find resources and portfolios online that can give you some idea on how you can use interaction design to improve your approach to web design. You need to continue to learn and explore the latest technologies to ensure that your interaction design is at its best, too. Apply what you’ve learned about interaction design to the way you work and build websites that users can truly enjoy visiting and at the same time deliver what your clients need from a business website.