Interaction design has a vital role in any product’s success. And in business, all interactions matter! Thus the way a user interacts with a product is key for its success or failure. So a product’s success is directly related to how good the interaction is between it and its user. A disguised and blurred copy or a misguiding icon or image can mislead the user. Therefore you need to be keen on the 5 dimensions of the interaction design to achieve greater product experiences. It’s like Steve Jobs once highlighted:
“Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”
But to better understand what we’re talking about, let’s start from the basics. First, you need to understand what interaction design is. Afterwards we will share with you the methodologies and best practices where you can start from. And that’s when the dimensions of Interaction Design come into place!
What is Interaction Design?
We all know that an interaction between a user and a product can involve many factors. From how a product looks and feels to how it moves, reacts, sounds, or even occupies a space (real or virtual).
Bottom line, we can say that Interaction Design is the act of designing products that people will interact with in different ways. In other words, “Interaction Design is the creation of a dialogue between a person and a product. This dialogue is both physical and emotional in nature and is manifested in the interplay between form, functions, and technology as experienced over time” (by John Kolko).
But, when it comes to software and technology like apps and websites, you need to be able to distinguish interaction design (IxD) from user experience (UX) design. We know it can seem to be overlapped. Still, they differ.
In digital, Interaction Design (IxD) is known as the practice of designing an interactive digital product or service. It’s like dealing with the mechanics of how users engage with an App or a platform. Thus, IxD looks at the simple actions that users can do and carefully thinks about them to create a set of desired user experiences in advance. For instance, when using a mobile app, users will swipe right, flick upwards, click a link, or press a button.
Put simply, interaction designers like yourself explore domains to understand how users might interact with products and the principles behind good communication to create better and more engaging user experiences.
Interaction Design Methodologies
To correctly do interaction design, you will need to ensure that the intent of a specific app or website element is clearly communicated to the user. Mainly, you need to give the users what they wish to complete their objectives efficiently and easily when using the digital product or service. It’s what we call a goal-driven design and usability-based.
Goal-driven design was popularized by Alan Cooper. It’s defined as a design that holds problem-solving at the highest priority. Focusing on satisfying the specific needs and desires of the user, rather than the capabilities of the technology a web page or app page provides.
The word usability may feel like a common term, but if you think proper, designers are merely asking, “can someone easily use this?”. Actually, usability is another core methodology used by interaction designers. And, they usually rely on 5 usability principles when they design digitally:
- Learnability: how easily can a new user learn to navigate the interface?
- Understandability: how well can a user understand what they are seeing
- Operability: how much control does the user have within the interface?
- Attractiveness: how visually appealing is the interface?
- Usability compliance: does the interface adhere to standards?
The core methodologies mentioned above can keep your design on track. However, there are 5 dimensions you always need to rely on to design the best interaction experiences.
The 5 Dimensions of IxD
The 5 Dimensions of Interaction Design are more than a helpful concept to look at when designing a digital product. You should consider these dimensions for a complete and holistic understanding of how users interact with digital products and what interaction design indeed involves.
- 1D: words:
This dimension represents the semantics or meaning of words. Words are powerful. They can quickly and implicitly influence users’ actions as they are open to their interpretations. For this reason, words must be familiar, simple to understand, conveyed in a tone appropriate for the setting, and written accurately to communicate information easily to the end-user, consistently throughout the product.
- 2D: visual representations:
This dimension refers to the visual elements, such as typography, diagrams, icons, or images. These elements are no less potent than words since users can process meaning to some imagery within a split of a second. The 2D visuals are commonplace in user interfaces and allow the users to interpret displays immediately, which benefits the user experience. However, they should be used in moderation so as not to overwhelm.
- 3D: physical objects or space:
This dimension points out the tangible means of control that provide the users with the tools to enable goal completion. It’s related to the physical hardware, whether a mouse and keyboard or a mobile device a user interacts with.
- 4D: time:
This fourth dimension regards the length that the users spend interacting with the first three dimensions. It includes how the users might measure their progress. 4D also encompasses sound, film, and animation, representing another means of conveying information and enhancing the users’ experience.
- 5D: behavior:
This last dimension concerns the actions, reactions, operations, presentations, easily adaptable and understandable to all users, like a success message when a task is completed or swipe action. In general, the actual behavior of the App or platform makes users’ react and feel identical when interacting with the system.
If you’re getting started or you already work with Interaction Design, you need to consider the methodologies and the 5 dimensions mentioned previously to implement the best practices.
Start by seeing Interaction Design as a conversation. Then keep in mind that the success of a product is all about the success of the interaction between the user and the product as a whole. Besides, never forget that the usability principles are essential to efficiently and easily design a product and make you aware of the many questions you need to solve before starting designing a product. Last but not least, make sure to consider the five dimensions in your products, as they offer you the capacity to best communicate, both succinctly and powerfully, with your product users.
If you need help in the design of your digital product, give us a call. We’ll be more than happy to support you!