Interaction Design = What it Feels Like

I have recently introduced an Innovation Design Model I’ve been working on for some time. It contains six design elements that parallel six disciplines. I’ve also been sharing my notes to show how I arrived at the model. So far I’ve discussed task analysis and how it centers around what makes sense, circumstance analysis and how it centers around decision-making, gamification analysis and how it centers around user engagement, and information architecture and how it centers around what your product looks like. This post is dedicated to interaction design and how it centers around what your product feels like. In previous posts I’ve included the list of design elements contained within the Innovation Design Model. Here is the list once more:

  • (Ta) Task analysis centers around what makes sense.
  • (Ca) Circumstance analysis centers around decision-making.
  • (Ga) Gamification analysis centers around user engagement.
  • (Ia) Information architecture centers around what [your product] looks like.
  • (Id) Interaction design centers around what [your product] feels like.
  • (Ua) Usability is concerned with what [your product] does.

(Id) Interaction design anticipates the behavior of users by defining artifacts, environments, and systems with the understanding of human emotion and relationships. This definition tells us that interaction design is focused on mediation of human relationships and human understanding–or, at its most basic level, interpersonal relationships. Wikipedia tells us that an interpersonal relationship is a strong, deep, or close association or acquaintance between two or more people that may range in duration from brief to enduring. Given these definitions, we can say that interaction design is focused on creating feelings of association between users and the product. Thus, interaction design centers around what your product feels like.

The following list of UX activities are founded on creating feelings of association:

(Br) Brand is the emotional relationship between users and your product. Although brand encompasses everything about your product, Interaction Designers create the associations and connections that attract and keeps users.

(Af) Affordance (Expectation) is a property of an object, or an environment, which allows an individual to perform an action, including elements that allow for easy discoverability of possible actions.

(Sf) Style & function is composed of elements such as line weight, shape, size and color, that create a powerful visual that engages users and provides functionality.

(Hp) Human perception organizes, identifies, and interprets sensory information in order to understand the environment. Because perception shifts with every change in the user’s circumstance, every design element will be viewed by users with varying perceptions.

(Cp) Color patterns are concerned with mapping specific emotions to specific user actions. Color is one of the most important elements of design that will communicate to users not just on the level of association perception, but on the level of emotional connections as well.

In the detailed process of the design element outline above, Task Analysts identify product ideas that make sense based on their research, Circumstance Analysts make decisions about what is feasible based on current circumstance, Gamification Analysts identify engagement strategies based on user value systems, and Information Architects show us what the product looks like by organizing and creating structure out of data. It follows then, that Interaction Designers create associations by creating human connections within the product.

Here, I have presented interaction design as one element out of six within my Innovation Design Model. I have concluded that in practice, Interaction Designers mold the organization and structure created by Information Architects into artifacts, environments, and systems that people associate themselves with through the use of UX activities that create human connections. And, I have presented six UX activities that I expect Interaction Designers to apply to the organization and structure created by Information Architects. In the next post I will share my notes on usability and how it centers around what your product does.

Join the conversation in my LinkedIn group. Although I’ve only included six UX activities there are many more that Interaction Designers are responsible for. I would be happy to include UX activities that you use in your Interaction Design practice.