Interaction Design Defined
By me at least.
Interaction Design is not so different from Web 2.0, Blogging, Twitter, and Facebook. It is basically a trend, a way of doing things, a technique for constructing a users online experience. In my opinion it is the right way of constructing that experience. The reason is in the whole process, from the planning stages to the final testing and implementation of everything from your mom and pop website to a software package that will be distributed on an international scale.
Design online has evolved to a point past just having the tools and techniques required to put together a web page and put it out there for the world to see. The best interactive designers will start with the skills required to catch the user’s eye, these are the creative people, those who have the talent to take a rotten apple and make it look cool. But now we need to add a layer, because great works of art just aren’t always made to be easy to use. Internet users and web browsers (as in the people browsing the web, not the applications) are sick of searching for fancy buttons, trying to read ridiculous fonts, and downloading plug-ins.
The Internet has always been about efficiency, the point is to get in and out with the information you need with the least amount of headache. This is where the interactive designer comes in. They already have the artist buried deep inside of them but on top of that is the practical user-centered designer. The designer that puts links in places where people might actually expect to find them and that understands serif’s were not placed on a font to make it look cooler.
So that’s almost what Interaction Design is.
Finally you take this whole design process and before we send it out to the world we actually let people use it. Launching a web page without any usability testing is like opening a restaurant without having anyone try the food first. So now what do we have? We have the art, the look and feel that makes people feel all warm and cozy on your website. We have the design, the layout and structure that lets people find what they want without getting lost. Finally we have the usability, the testing that confirms all of this work you put in is actually going to make sense to someone other than the designer.
So yeah.. That’s what Interaction Design is, for the most part at least.