Let me start with this phrase from Bryan Lawson and Kees Dorst, author of Design Expertise.
“One of the difficulties in understanding design, is its multifaceted nature. There is no one single way of looking at design that captures the ‘essence’ without missing some other salient aspects. ”
That statement is so much true, Design is truly multi-faceted, it is a composition of many different disciplines of work coming together. When it comes to Interaction Design, it is often misunderstood for just the visual attributes of a website or user engagement. But in reality it is much more than that, this article attempts to explain the 9 key dimensions of Interaction Design.
Here are the key aspects you need to understand if you are building an Interaction Design.
User Research: Knowing or studying your consumer’s mind, learning about their psychology is where it all starts, knowing their likes, dislikes, demographics, behavioral pattern etc. Spending time interviewing the end users, analysing existing user data, quizzing the sales team, will help classify the users into distinct personas. And once the dominant personas are in place, it will help build a design which will align to your users.
Branding: As a brand you want to create a distinct feel about yourself in the consumer’s mind. For that to happen you have to Design “experience”. Start with understanding the brand, the existing image it has and where you want to take it. e.g if you have a tag line “we care”, the imagery you have, the tone of the content, the features etc, all should convey the feel that you care.
Ergonomics: In general knowing how humans interact with system is a foundation skill to have. Designing a new system would mean understanding how your users are going to interact with your Design in different form factors. If you have existing website or an app start with usability test and if you are building a new site, form a focus group, who could be responsible for performing the usability testing.
Content Strategy: Without good content there is no Interaction Design, be it image, copy, video, they all need to have consistent story to gain the trust and engage the users. As part of the Interaction Design you need to have a content strategy in place. Meaning what type of content, who needs to produce, what it needs to convey etc. A lot of creative thought process will be required to build content, make sure you have a separate stream for content production.
Visual Design: Visual appeal comes with a right mix of type, words, space, color, symmetry, shapes, images etc. A good Visual Design creates a good first impression in the users mind and help capture their attention.
Information Architecture: Deriving the best way to organize information or options on your website, structuring the user navigation, grouping of similar feature in a fashion that is easier for the user to find etc, constitutes information architecture. Going through the IA process certainly help build a better Design.
Market Research: When you are designing a new website, take time to review your competitor website as well, this process will help you position your brand differently and help you build layouts, content, visual images which are unique to you.
Requirement Engineering: Best of Design sense may fall short if you don’t have enough business acumen to understand client’s need. Requirements are like the basic ingredients for designing a website, create a feature value matrix which can help you capture feature priority, description, feasibility on different form factors, persona it appeals to etc.
Technology: Imagination has no limits, but implementing what you think may not always be possible with the given technology, time and budget. Keep a feasibility check on your Design, have a technologist part of your discovery phase, so you validate things as they progress.
An interaction design team in aggregation should have requirement analysis, visual design, branding, user experience and technology skills. When all of these come together in the right form, that’s when you get the WOW factor. Hope this blog helps in understanding the multiple facets involved in building an Interaction Design.