Interaction design -often abbreviated as IxD- is the practice of designing interactive digital products, environments, systems, and services in order to facilitate interactions between users and their artifacts.
First of all let’s make a little distinction between some terms that may seem similar at first glance: UX, UI, IA and IxD… User Experience Design (UX) is the satisfaction a user derives from using an application, User Interface Design (UI) is how the elements on an application work together to ease users’ interaction, Information Architecture (IA) is how a web application is structured to ease finding information, and Interaction Design (IxD) is the reaction between an application and its users when they interact.
According to Bill Moggridge, founder of design and innovation company IDEO, in Interaction Design the first concern is the human values of the people who will use the design; the aesthetics, subjective and qualitative values, and human factors: the designer creates a solution to give pleasure and lasting satisfaction, and hence to fit the market and make businesses successful. According to the Interaction Design Foundation, “the goal of interaction design is to create products that enable the user to achieve their objective(s) in the best way possible”, a discipline that is a fusion of product design, computer science, and communication design.
Specifically Interaction Design (IxD) is a transdisciplinar research activity that mixes industrial design, ergonomics, cognitive psychology, human–computer interaction, architecture and Interface Design. But we should not confuse this practice with another discipline called Interactive Design which involves the creation of meaningful uses of hardware and systems. While Interaction Design’s main concern is the design of those hardware and systems, Interactive Design focuses on the use and experience of the product or service.
Some authors state that Interactive Design is heavily influenced by the Fluxus art-movement, which focused on a “do-it-yourself” aesthetic, anti-commercialism and an anti-art sensibility. Some core ideas that form Fluxus like globalism, unity of art and life, intermedia, experimentalism, chance, playfulness or simplicity can be found in Interaction Design, as well as a connection with the postulates of cybernetics which relating established a unifying language to explain the behaviour and cognition of all human and nonhuman organisms.
As we have seen the field of User Experience Design (UX) is a conceptual discipline focused on the interaction between human users, artifacts, and their contextual environments. The main aim of Interaction Design (IxD), which is in the heart of UX, is to create products and services that enable the user to achieve their objectives. In some sense, these disciplines inherit the theories of cybernetics and neuroscience which analyze the cognitive processes that enable communication in humans and which involve intentional control over the production of communicative signals, the representation of others’ mental states, and the detailed tracking of shared experiences.
The job of designers is solving problems, helping users do things, and guiding their behavior towards certain outcomes. So the main focus of all this process is to design things that are intuitive and easy to use, and which are both relevant and significant to the target users. Adopting a reductionist approach to design and focusing in the essentials that are all functional we help create void spaces and a sense of freedom. And being minimalist may look simple, but we should not despise the power of simplicity…
*(Pictures: envisprecisely, wikipedia & emiday).