The seamless experience that exists within well-designed apps is partly due to interactivity and interaction design. Extreme care and attention has been put into each button and user interface. Design goes beyond the aesthetics and must also address the needs of the user.
We have long passed the age of static GUI (graphic user interface) elements, and modern user expectations are much higher. Interactivity is expected, if not essential for an effective app design. It is not by coincidence that there are more “UI/UX Design” and “Interaction Design” job openings than ever before.
What is Interaction Design?
Image by Fred Nerby
Interaction design (abbreviated as IxD) is a relatively new field of computer science that is primarily concerned about the function and form of digital spaces for people’s use. It is a form of goal-orientated design, which means it focuses on satisfying the needs and desires of the user.
Interaction design is a specialty field that requires a different approach compared to conventional design. While the ultimate goal of all good design is to communicate, interaction design places a lot more emphasis on how technology and users communicate with each other. Great interaction design balances the abilities of humans with the limitations of modern technology. The end product should also incorporate other factors such as comfort, accessibility and efficiency.
How Does Interactivity Enhance Your App?
Image by Michal Galubinski and thoke design
Interactivity enriches your existing app by providing deeper interactions between the user and technology. The notion of communication between technology and the user pushes your app to a higher level of user experience.This helps to grab and retain the user’s attention.
Good interaction design feels natural and it makes us feel like we want to use the app. Each unique app will achieve this result in different forms, as the user’s needs and desires will be different from one another.
Elements of Effective Interaction Design
Interaction design is an ever-changing field, but there are a few core concepts that stay true no matter what medium you are using.
– The entire goal behind interaction design is to form a line of communication between the user and technology. It is the interaction designer’s job to blend the language of computers and humans together, so they can understand one another.
Action and Reaction
– For interactivity to feel natural, it must be designed with all expected and possible actions and reactions in mind. For example, whenever you open an app, you instinctively use the swipe gesture to move between pages. Knowing how users will interact with your app allows you to get your message across more effectively.
– Understanding your user’s needs and desires allows you to direct the interaction towards the end goal. As a general rule, it is better to reach the end goal in the least amount of steps as possible. The flow of interaction is very similar to the flow of a conversation.
– Efficiency is all about reducing the amount of miscommunication and wasted resources. It also ties in with the flow of the interaction. For example, while flashy animations are quite nice to look at, they do take up a lot of time. An interaction designer must decide whether the resources and time dedicated to a particular interaction is worth the result it produces.
Interactivity is meant to enhance not hinder communication between technology and humans. Next time you use an app, try to evaluate how they have used the core Interaction design concepts to deliver a seamless experience.