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Multimedia interactive design is an understanding and approach to the creation of multimedia that stresses its interactive elements. While some multimedia works are fairly passive in nature, such as displays of animation, text, and audio that are viewed by an audience, other works are designed to be interactive. Internet websites, for example, are typically developed as multimedia, with different types of images, text, animations, and other elements that are all meant to be interacted with by the visitor of the website. Multimedia interactive design often utilizes different aspects of general interactive design such as the development of a user interface and understanding the form and function of various elements.
It is often important for anyone working on multimedia interactive design to fundamentally understand both aspects of the work. Multimedia refers to creations, including works of art, websites, and software applications, which utilize more than one type of media at once. This can include something as simple as a slideshow presentation that uses images and text, though more elaborate forms of multimedia can include audio, video, text, and still images. Someone working on multimedia interactive design should understand how these different types of media can work together, and the effect that each can have on a viewer or user.
The interactive element of multimedia interactive design provides users of an application or website with the ability to manipulate and change the media in some way. Internet users can often click on hyperlinks on websites, navigate between pages of a site, and choose to play or stop video displayed on that site. The developer of this type of application usually needs to understand how interactive elements come together with the multimedia aspects of the application to create an overall product that is functional and provides information or media that is useful.
Important aspects of multimedia interactive design include an understanding of form and function and how the user experience impacts the effectiveness of an application. Form and function typically refer to the two basic properties of any aspect of an interactive creation. The function of an interactive element indicates what that element does when used, such as changing website pages or playing a video, while the form of that element deals with how it appears and how easily a user can recognize the function of that element. User experience with multimedia interactive design is also crucial, as designers often need to understand how to balance effective functionality with aesthetic design. A website that looks wonderful, but is nearly impossible to navigate, is just as poorly created as a highly functional website that is boring and unappealing.