Basics of Interaction Design Process

Get a brief introduction to the basic concepts of the interaction design process.

Steps of the interaction design process

There are three basic steps involved in the process of interaction design: user research and gathering requirements, developing alternative designs and prototyping, and evaluating these designs. We will cover them in greater detail later in the course, but in this lesson, let’s look at a brief overview of each step.

User research and requirements analysis

Before designing something for someone, we must know about the user. We should know about problems they have that can be solved and the set of possible activities users may perform while using an interface. All users may not have the same level of expertise but the same interface may need to be used by novices or experts.

Any technology or associated design we intend to build may have a specific context. It is important for the designer to know and understand the design context. For example, will the interface be used in a safety-critical system? Will the work environment allow the users to pay full attention to each detail?

Another important thing is to consider and understand the current user problem points. Do the users already have an interface design to use? What problems are they facing with this interface? How can our system solve these problems?

Designs and prototyping

The second step involves designs and prototyping. Building designs means converting the requirements and specifications into different ideas for how to meet these requirements and how any problems can be solved. This task can be divided into two subtasks, conceptual design and physical design. The conceptual design deals with general ideas and solutions for how the system will perform, how it should look, and how the user will progress while performing a task. The physical design focuses on details, such as fonts, colors, interaction styles, etc.

The second part of this step is the prototyping of these designs. The interactive versions of the designs should be built in order to be evaluated by the user. This prototype should start from the lowest fidelityA quick and simple representation of the idea or concept to get quick feedback from the users. It can be as simple as a sketch on a paper or storyboard. and lowest investment possible. If the idea seems inadequate or irrelevant, it should be discarded. Otherwise, the next better version of the prototype should be implemented.

Note: In the last paragraph we used the term “designs” rather than “design” because designing is an exploration of ideas. It’s always a best practice to work on multiple designs and ideas to get the best design.

Evaluating design

When prototyping is completed and the final product has been built in the software version, then the last task of the design process starts, i.e. to evaluate this design. Design is evaluated by both experts and actual users at different stages of the process. The design evaluation criteria are predefined conditions such as the number of errors made and the time taken by users, if the design is appealing or not, does the design fulfill system requirements, etc.

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