In a world of digital saturation, it’s my opinion that designers need to take their output up a notch. Digital User Experience (UX) is being championed now, and through this emerging trend, we’re seeing that slight changes in the way that we interact with digital products is having a big effect on the market in terms of consumer attraction and retention. In the market as it stands – I believe that while good design will inspire someone to use a product, it’s the quality of the interaction that will retain a user, and make that user trust the product. That good feeling that makes you want to click a button and use the application – that’s what is separating the good, from the best.
Though a UX designer will figure out the stumbling blocks of a design and allow the user an easy journey through an interface, an Interaction Designer (IxD) designer will create how the user truly connects to the product in question. It’s the IxD’s job to make sure that the user can easily understand the interface – and therefore use it efficiently and fondly. From happily bouncing pixels, to the way that different elements of the web page slide into place in an abnormally pleasing manner – these are small things that we as users take away from each time we use a digital product. Think about when you open an app – are you greeted by a blank page, or a spinning icon? Take for example the plethora of apps that look at Menstruation or Fertility tracking – they all serve the same function, though some offer a sterile experience of simply tracking, whilst others offer seamless and beautiful interactions with a warm, friendly interface. You know where my digital money is!
The work done behind interaction design is not a light task. IxDs must consider usability when creating their designs, but also the psychology of the targeted audience. Empathy is key. By creating personas for their users, they can determine what interaction the user wants to have with the product. For example, is this an app for a user who is constantly on the move and needs to use an app whilst physically moving around town? How will this effect the text size or the size, and location of the buttons on the screen? By designing for a specific audience, an IxD will pin point exactly what function the app needs to serve and how to achieve it. Some of the best apps will also have options to alter the appearance and personalise the function to you, appealing to more people – think about the app, Pocket, that allows you to save articles on your phone or mobile and change the reading interface.
My advice to anyone looking to start in the world of interaction design is to become multidisciplinary and learn from a range of people. A background in UX or Visual design is key, but you’ll need to master both. Buddy up to a Design Strategist and a few Service Designers if you can. They’ll help you understand the killer insights and empathetic decisions behind why things have been created the way they have. Be a sponge!
What’s your favourite app or interface you’ve used and why? I’d love to know – mine is the Dice app. If you’ve never used it, it’s flawless.
If you’re in the Interaction Design Field and are looking to try something new, or wanting to break into it – get in touch, I’d love to hear how it’s going for you.