Interaction design is one of many fields that make up the larger practice of user experience (UX) design. Interaction designers create engaging experiences between people and products, such as a website or mobile app. According to the Interaction Design Association, interaction design (sometimes abbreviated as ‘IxD’), defines the structure and behavior of interactive systems.
This interaction cycle shown above can help us understand the causes of user behavior, from leveraging prior experience and determining goals, to perceiving opportunities and being motivated to act.You can apply this thinking to your own creative work, and enhance your customers’ user experience, by following these five principles of interaction design:
Perceivability is about making opportunities to interact available across many types of devices. Designers talk about placing affordances in a product. This means crafting signals, cues, and indicators in the product to help users perceive opportunities to interact.
If there are multiple opportunities to interact, users make a prediction for each, then choose the one they think will be the most relevant and the most likely to help them reach their goal. The probability of interaction is influenced by both the perception of opportunities to interact and the confidence users have in their predictions.
3. Get Feedback
Feedback is a critical step in this interaction design model, because it helps users understand if they’ve used a product correctly and if the product will help them reach their goal. Feedback occurs in three stages:
The immediate response to interaction.
The product acknowledges that the user has done something. Clicked a button, for example. When a product doesn’t respond to interactions in the way (or in the amount of time) that the user expects, they may think it’s frozen, stuck, or broken.
Clear communication that the product has received the user’s request.
This feedback may be necessary to help people understand that the product is working and that the user should wait.
The output or results of the product’s response to the request.
Final feedback takes many forms, depending on what the product does and what the user has requested. For example, navigating to a new page or screen is the output of a navigational request.
If the feedback is aligned with the user’s predictions, if it is meaningful and valuable, and if it moves the user toward their goal, the user learns that the interaction was effective. Each outcome is a learning experience: Good outcomes reward interaction, and bad outcomes punish it. When the outcome is predictable, relevant, valuable, and brings a user closer to their goal, they are likely to perform that interaction again.
When users learn that certain interactions are effective and helpful to achieving their goals, the interactions become stored in their memories for future reference and use. The user is likely to interact with the product again, and this knowledge may influence future interactions with new products.
As you can see, good interactive design helps both the user and the designer. To learn more about user experience, visit usability.gov.