Interaction design is a subset of UX (User Experience) design. UX design focuses on what users need, what they value, and what their abilities and limitations are. It stands at the intersection between the experiences of users and the desires of businesses. UX is made up of many interconnected disciplines like psychology, visual design, programming, interactive design, and accessibility and accommodation. It also encompasses a subdiscipline called interaction design.
Interaction design, abbreviated IxD, concentrates specifically on the moment that the user interacts with the screen, while UX encompasses the entire experience. The goal of design is to help the user have the best experience possible. Interaction Designers look at the aesthetics of the product, sound, animation, and spacing on the screen.
The Five Dimensions of Interaction Design
In an interview in a book called Designing Interactions by Bill Moggridge, Gillian Crampton Smith outlined four dimensions, or languages, of interaction design. They are words, visual representations, physical objects or space, and time. Kevin Silver later added a fifth, which is behavior.
First Dimension - Words
This includes any text on the screen and buttons that have words on them.
Second Dimension - Visual representations
These are images or photos as well as typography and icons. These are static representations. They don’t move.
Third Dimension - Physical objects or space
This includes the devices that contain the product the users are interacting with, so that could be a keyboard, a touch screen, the user’s finger, or gestures they make.
Fourth Dimension - Time
This dimension includes media that changes over time, such as animation, videos, or an audio track, as well as how long the user spends interacting with the product.
Fifth Dimension - Behavior
This considers how the user interacts with or responds to the product.
What Do Interaction Designers Do?
UX designers conduct surveys and interviews to find out what users what, then create personas of users and mockups of products or websites. They analyze data they have collected, and they also give presentations and workshops to other members of the design team and to clients. Interaction designers do similar things, although they are looking specifically at the interaction of the user with the product.
Ix Designers ask questions to get an idea of what happens during the interaction. Some of these questions might be as follows:
- What movements does the user make?
- What commands do they give?
- What clues does the user get before they take an action, and what feedback do they get after?
- What happens when an error occurs?
- How long is the time between the user’s action and the response?
- How does the interface look? Are the buttons and other elements a usable size and a good color?
- Are they reasonably placed where they are easy to find?
- Is the process as simple as possible?
With the information they have gathered, Ix Designers then develop a design strategy that describes the user’s goals. Then they create a user persona and using this information, the designer can build wireframes and prototypes to help understand how the user interacts with the product. The interaction is tested using the prototypes and the design is altered accordingly.
The Design Process
The UX design process is based on the questions why, how, and what. The process starts with research to discover why the user experience is what it is. The goal of this phase is to understand what the user wants from the experience. The Designer conducts surveys and interviews to discover the motivation and goals of users. The Interaction Designer collects data on what people do when they use the product.
The definition phase involves using the data collected along with analytics to create a detailed description of the user experience. This phase involves creating user personas, flowcharts, and mapping to uncover patterns and trends.
Once the patterns emerge, design enters the third phase in which team members generate ideas about how to solve problems and improve the experience. A rough sketch of the product is developed, and from that come wireframes and prototypes. Ix Designers use prototypes to study users’ reactions.
The next phase is testing the product or website to see if the user experience is what was expected. Depending upon the test results, there may be a redesign phase to improve the experience further.
Qualities of Ix Designers
The qualities that make UX Designers successful are similar to those for Ix Designers. You need to be able to imagine yourself as the user in order to understand why they do what they do. You need to pay attention to detail and to communicate well. An interest in people is helpful, and you also need to be good at collaborating with members of a team to figure things out.
Ix Designers need to create designs that make users feel good about their experience by using colors, fonts, and animation. They need to design for people, not for machines. It is also important to be able to identify patterns of behavior and use the design to change the behavior.
What Apps and Tools Do UX Designers Use?
UX and Ix Designers use different types of software in their work. These tools allow them to design mobile apps and websites often without having to do any coding. Some of the most common are listed below.
Adobe XD is a design tool based on vector graphics that allows you to create digital designs for everything from mobile apps to websites. XD is part of Adobe’s Creative Cloud and works well with other CC apps like Photoshop, Illustrator, and Animate. There are many repeating features that make your workflow move faster, and XD also includes collaboration features that make it easy to share and test prototypes. You can run XD on both macOS and Windows.
Sketch is a Mac application that doesn’t work on Windows. You can use vector editing tools or design at the pixel level. It allows you to scale to any screen size and speed up your workflow with mathematical shortcuts. As with XD, there are repeatable components and you can organize your design so everything is easy to find. Sketch recently added real-time collaboration, so now it is easier for a team to work together, and you can also create libraries of the elements the team is using. There are also many plugins available to customize your workspace.
InVision works to support the design process from brainstorming and collaborating with Freehand, or prototyping with Cloud or designing with Studio. You can create design libraries for the team. InVision works on the web, Android phones, and iPhones.
Figma is another design application. It includes FigJam which provides an online whiteboard for collaboration to let your design team plan, define, and workshop together. You can use the pen tool for vector graphics or plugins like an instant arc design. Auto Layout moves and stretches items automatically, and Figma makes the work move along efficiently. Figma runs on a browser so it will work with macOS, Windows, or Linux systems.
How to Learn UX Design
If you would like to learn how to use software like Adobe XD in order to switch to a career in UX design, one of the best ways to do that is to sign up for classes. You can choose classes that meet in-person or online to learn XD, Photoshop, and Illustrator. Some people prefer to attend brick-and-mortar sessions when learning new information, but that isn’t always available. Live online classes have a similar set-up with a real-time, remote instructor who can answer questions and take control of your monitor—with permission—to show you how to do things. Training is part or full-time and available weekdays, weeknights, or weekends.
The best way to prepare for a career shift to a field like UX design is to enroll in a bootcamp or certificate program. These are intensive training courses that run from a few weeks to a few months and will cover motion graphics and animation in much more depth than tutorials can. Another plus of training is that you will leave class with a professional-quality sample video portfolio that you can show to prospective employers.
It’s easy to take UX design classes and start a new career. Choose between in-person sessions in NYC at Noble’s location or sign up for live online UX design courses and attend from anywhere. Find UX bootcamps in your area and get started in a new direction today.