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Interaction design is a termed used to describe the design considerations that surface when mediating the interaction between a human and the digital and networked world. “Interaction design” has evolved out of “user-interface design,” and has come to refer to not only the interface issues, but also the entire management of the complex interactions that take place in a highly networked and digital landscape.

As a result of networking, society has moved towards services instead of products – interaction has moved beyond the PC. The networked computer is a social computer. The premise of interaction design is that computers should mediate, not automate, our interaction with digital hardware and software, and as such the author is skeptical of any new technology or program that ignores the nuances of social mediations. Understanding interaction design issues requires going out to look at real people and what they are doing.

Central to the idea of interaction design is the user’s experience. A digital company’s products or services will ultimately be judged by the quality of the interaction, and the quality of the experience, that they provide. The three main criteria are that the product or service should be: useful, usable and desirable. This point helps to illustrate the fact that even a technically good product or service can fail if it doesn’t provide a high quality of experience. This is why interaction design, and the design of an effective interactive experience, is an important field.

The study of interaction design is crucial to the development of a successful interface and navigation structure for interactive environments. A major obstacle to effective design in today’s rapidly changing and expanding digital world is that too often software and hardware engineers fail to adequately address how their audience will interact with their product(s).

In my own research I have made two lists of what I believe to be essential factors for interface and navigation design:

Principles of User Design:

  1. The design should be user-centered.
  2. It should effectively integrate the HCI-related disciplines.
  3. The interactive system should be free of major bugs.
  4. The interface and navigation should be well suited to the functionality of the system, as well as the narrative structure and content.
  5. The system for interaction should be enjoyable to use.

Principles of User Navigation:

  1. Be easily learned.
  2. Remain consistent.
  3. Provide feedback.
  4. Appear in context.
  5. Support the user’s goals.

I think that the idea of interaction design being built around social mediations is quite an interesting topic. As we come to live more and more in a networked world, it will become increasingly beneficial to have technology that mediates our interactions with other people, and which does not simply automate all of the tasks according to the computer’s “best-guess” software. As humans are such complex machines, I think that it is important to build flexibility into any interaction design to allow for our humanness to be expressed.

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Adrian, or AJ, is the founder and Director of Technology of Pop Digital. He has spoken at tech conferences around the world, and published numerous articles about Agile methodologies, UX design, Information Architecture, and Web Development.

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