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What is Interaction Design?

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  • Written By: H. Bliss
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 08 November 2016
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    Conjecture Corporation
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In computers, interaction design refers to a process used to streamline the experience for users and customers of a product or service. It focuses on how a user's behavior influences the functionality of a product in an effort to improve the way a product works. Though interaction design is most commonly used in software design, it can also be used to denote the design of human interaction in any product. Interaction design is often called IxD for short.

When using a product or service, a person can initiate interaction in many ways, using senses including sight, touch, and hearing. A user may pick up an object, speak to it, or press a button to begin interacting with it. Objects with creation processes involving interaction design generally include automatic teller machines (ATMs), smartphones, and kitchen appliances. Computers like desktop and laptop personal computers are also created with consideration of the interaction between the user and the computer.

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A major field of interaction design exists in the software design world. Like with other things that are designed with the user's interaction in mind, software design professionals consider how the behavior of a software system will interact with the behavior of the user. Education and experience for those working in this field vary. Computer interaction designers often have a background that combines art with computer experience, especially with programming or design software. Part of an interaction designer's work is sketching potential designs, so a background in drawing or computer aided drafting (CAD) can also be helpful in pursuing an interaction design career.

Generally, interaction design focuses on how well things work when a human initiates communication with an object. It is most helpful when making a product that people intend to use because it can help make a properly designed product easier, more efficient, and safer for the consumer to use. When a designer adjusts an interaction to better serve a user, he often considers how the user's goals might be best served by the appearance, behavior, and communication methods used during an interaction.

A user's response to the aesthetic beauty of the product interface is part of an interaction, so many interaction designs result from work to maintain a balance between usability and the visual attractiveness of the design. Good interaction design can make sure a product gets good user reviews, which can help bolster continued sales of the product. When an interaction is designed well, it goes more smoothly and is more pleasing to the user. Poorly designed interactions will typically run slowly, encounter frequent problems, and frustrate the user, which can mean bad reviews and poor sales.

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