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Interaction Design

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Interaction Design is a field and approach to designing interactive experiences. These could be in any medium, not only digital media. Interactive experiences, necessarily, require time as an organizing principle (though not exclusively) and Interactive Design is concerned with a user, customer, audience, or participant's experience flow through time. Interactivity should not be confused with animation in which objects may move on a screen; interactivity is concerned with being part of the action of a system or performance and not merely watching the action passively.



The Dilemma of Comments

Abuse has made me seriously consider – several times – disabling comments. I’m ambivalent about it. On the one hand it would make writing and publishing much easier. Write something, proofread it, publish.

Johansson, Roger. 456 Berea Street (2007). Articles>Web Design>Community Building>Interaction Design


Do Links Need Underlines?

During our recent Virtual Seminar on home page design, several people asked about whether it makes a difference if links are underlined or not. It's a good question and one we get frequently.

Spool, Jared M. User Interface Engineering (2006). Design>Web Design>Usability>Interaction Design


Do Students Really Feel Integrated With Computers?   (PDF)

This paper reports the results of a survey of senior Business and Engineering majors conducted at the University of Cincinnati. The survey's goal was to examine whether or not students felt integrated with computers yet, since the technological trend is towards a human-computer interface.

Stibravy, John A. STC Proceedings (1994). Articles>User Centered Design>Human Computer Interaction


The Document Triangle

Every paper and digital document shares three basic dimensions: structure, information and presentation. Although these dimensions are always interwoven, some people in the digital world mostly focus on document structures (e.g. information architects), some on the information they contain (e.g. marketers and writers/editors) while others specialise in the (interactive) presentation aspects (e.g. visual designers and Flash developers). The mutual dependence and interaction of these dimensions is the next level of design and does not regularly get the proper attention. In order to better understand the relationship between these dimensions, we need to look at each of them seperately, and how they inter-relate.

Bogaards, Peter J. BogieLand (2003). Articles>Web Design>Interaction Design


Editable HTML Content

One of the little known features of DHTML, at least within Internet Explorer 5.5 or above, is an attribute known as contentEditable. This attribute can be used to make areas of text within a Web page editable by the user. This is very different from a form element, such as a text box, as contentEditable can make a table cell, or a standard paragraph editable.

HyperWrite (2005). Articles>Web Design>Interaction Design>DHTML


The Effects of Perceptual Grouping on Text Entry Performance

One of the primary challenges confronting designers of mobile computing devices is the issue of efficient text entry. One potential solution is to group multiple letters onto single keys, similar to the T9 keyboard currently used on telephones. Two experiments examined the effects of perceptual grouping on soft keyboard transcription rates. Results from Experiment 1 showed significantly slower transcription rates for QWERTY keyboards with grouped keys. Results from Experiment 2 showed various levels of perceptual interference due to the different Gestalt grouping effects. These results indicate that perceptual grouping can negatively affect text entry performance, and placing multiple letters onto single keys reduces the speed at which users can transcribe words.

Hamblin, Christopher J., Michael Bohan and Alex Chaparro. Usability News (2004). Design>Usability>Human Computer Interaction>PDA


Effects of Visual-Auditory Incongruity on Product Expression and Surprise   (peer-reviewed)

Product experience is influenced by information from all the senses. Our experiments provide insight into how sounds contribute to the overall experience of a product's expression. We manipulated the sounds of dust busters and juicers so that they either did or did not fit the expressions of the products' appearances. In some, but not all cases, we found an inverse relationship between the degree-of-fit of a sound and the degree of surprise evoked. Furthermore, we found in some cases that the expression of a product's sound influenced the overall expression of that product.

Ludden, Geke D.S. and Hendrik N.J. Schifferstein. International Journal of Design (2007). Articles>User Experience>Interaction Design


The Elements of Interaction Design

Other design disciplines use raw materials. Communication designers use basic visual elements such as the line. Industrial designers work with simple 3D shapes such as the cube, the sphere, and the cylinder. For interaction designers, who create products and services that can be digital (software) or analog (a karaoke machine) or both (a mobile phone), the design elements are more conceptual. And yet they offer a powerful set of components for interaction designers to bring to bear on their projects.

Saffer, Dan. UXmatters (2006). Design>Usability>Interaction Design


The End of Web Design

Websites must tone down their individual appearance and distinct design in all ways: visual design; terminology and labeling; interaction design and workflow; and information architecture. These changes are driven by four different trends that all lead to the same conclusion.

Nielsen, Jakob. Alertbox (2000). Articles>Usability>Web Design>Interaction Design


Engaging the User: What We Can Learn from Games

As an Interaction Designer, I’m perpetually impressed with the continual design success inherent in most video games. We are taught to know our users by understanding their goals, leveraging mental models, and taking ourselves out of the equation in order to design useful and appropriate interfaces. And although a user-centered design approach is invaluable, I can’t help but wonder how game designers just seem to nail it time and again for what are large and diverse audiences.

Sasinski, Marc. Johnny Holland (2009). Articles>User Experience>Interaction Design>Games


The Essence of Interaction Design—Part I: Designing Virtual Contexts for Interaction

With this column, I’m introducing a multipart series on what I consider to be the essence of interaction design for application user experiences. First, I’ll lay the groundwork for this series by describing the role of interaction design, then I’ll embark on my exploration of the essence of interaction design by discussing the design of virtual contexts for interaction.

Gabriel-Petit, Pabini. UXmatters (2011). Articles>Web Design>Interaction Design


Evangelize with Usability: Using Invalid Users to Sell User Centered Design to a large organization

In larger technology companies it can often be difficult to develop an understanding of the advantages of doing good product design early. As Alan Cooper told us, 'The word 'design' is toxic in the world of business'. More so with Interaction Design and User Centered Design processes which require to be done early, close to the beginning of a project while the product is being defined and the requirements written. It is not unusual to find a number of very skeptical people around, who question, the time, budget and effort which must go into these activities. So how do you overcome this skepticism? How do you sell Interaction Design to a skeptical audience? The answer is to use Usability Testing as your early option for evangelizing your new principles and approach. By carefully selecting a set of 'invalid' test participants, you can sow the seeds for future success. This strategy is not without it's risks and it could easily backfire if your design is not good. This short paper seeks to advise you how to select the candidate evangelists and how to manage the risks of showing them the product early, so that you get the desired result - an influential band of company evangelists to your User Centered Design cause. People who will go forth and spread the word that your efforts, the budget and the time are not only necessary but essential for the future success of the business.

UIdesign (2000). Design>Usability>User Centered Design>Interaction Design


The Ever-Evolving Arrow: Universal Control Symbol

The arrow and its brethren are everywhere on our computer screens. For example, a quick examination of the Firefox 3.0 browser, shown in Figure 1 in its standard configuration, yields eight examples of arrows—Forward, Back, and Reload buttons, scroll bar controls, and drop-down menus that reveal search engine, history, and bookmark choices.

Follett, Jonathan. UXmatters (2009). Articles>User Interface>Human Computer Interaction>Graphic Design


Extending Motion into Interactivity: A Curriculum for Interaction Design   (peer-reviewed)

One of the difficulties of teaching interaction design is its extremely vast scope. How do we decide what to emphasize and teach in this broad, multidisciplinary area? This article describes a framework for teaching interaction design that leverages basic art, design and motion skills taught in an art department. This framework also serves as a foundation for future discussions in theory.

Salto, Ron. AIGA (2002). Design>Web Design>Interaction Design


Featuritis (or Creeping Featurism)

Featuritis or creeping featurism is the tendency for the number of features in a product (usually software product) to rise with each release of the product. What may have been a cohesive and consistent design in the early versions may end up as a patchwork of added features. And with extra features comes extra complexity.

Soegaard, Mads. Interaction-Design.org. Articles>Usability>Interaction Design>Project Management


First, Do No Harm

In my column, On Good Behavior, I’ll explore the essentials of good interaction design. This first column provides a brief introduction to interaction design—defining the scope this column will cover—then explores some key design principles. What is interaction design?

Gabriel-Petit, Pabini. UXmatters (2009). Articles>User Experience>Interaction Design>Workflow


Fitts's User Interface Law Applied to the Web

Interface design is difficult in part because everything requires interpretation. A design that works for one task or one user might not be appropriate for another. In other types of engineering, like architecture or bridge building, designers can always rely on laws of physics and gravity to make designs work. There is at least one immutable rule for interface design that we know about, and it's called Fitts's Law. It can be applied to software interfaces as well as Web site design because it involves the way people interact with mouse or other pointing devices. Most GUI platforms have built-in common controls designed with Fitts's Law in mind. Many Web designers, however, have yet to recognize the powerful little facts that make this concept so useful.

Berkun, Scott. UIWeb (2000). Design>User Interface>Human Computer Interaction>Web Design


Fluency as an Experiential Quality in Augmented Spaces   (peer-reviewed)

The use of digital products and services has expanded from largely instrumental, work-oriented settings to include entertainment, leisure, personal communication, and other classes of hedonistic use. The development of foundational concepts in the interaction design community to succeed usability and utility has lagged behind considerably. I argue that interaction design would benefit from attempts to articulate experiential qualities of digital products and services, and illustrate the approach by presenting the concept of fluency. It refers to the degree of gracefulness with which the user deals with multiple demands for her attention and action, particularly in augmented spaces where the user moves through shifting ecologies of people, physical objects, and digital media. I develop the concept of fluency by analyzing a range of digital artifacts in use situations, addressing the main themes of (1) social norms and practices and (2) peripheral interaction and calm technology. In terms of research methodology, this paper illustrates how design and criticism can be merged to construct elements of transferable knowledge for communication with design-research communities.

Löwgren, Jonas. International Journal of Design (2007). Articles>User Experience>Interaction Design


Forward Thinking Form Validation

Form validation has been a finicky business since the web was born. First came the server-side validation error summary. Then we evolved to client-side validation to verify results inline. Now, we have the marching giant that is HTML5 and CSS3: HTML5’s forms chapter offers new input types and attributes that make validation constraints possible. CSS3’s basic UI module provides several pseudo-classes to help us style those validation states and change a field’s appearance based on the user’s actions. Let’s take a look at combining the two to create a CSS-based form validator that has fairly broad browser support.

Seddon, Ryan. List Apart, A (2010). Articles>Web Design>Forms>Interaction Design


Foundations of Interaction Design

Interaction Design is distinct from the other design disciplines. It's not Information Architecture, Industrial Design or even User Experience Design. It also isn't user interface design. Interaction design is not about form or even structure, but is more ephemeral--about why and when rather than about what and how.

Malouf, David Heller. Boxes and Arrows (2007). Design>User Centered Design>Interaction Design


Foundations of Interaction Design

An interview with David Malouf on his article, Foundations of Interaction Design. We discuss several foundations of Interaction design including time, metaphor, abstraction, and negative space. David also provides greater detail to comments posted on his article from readers from around the world.

Malouf, David Heller and Jeff Parks. Boxes and Arrows (2007). Articles>User Interface>Interaction Design>Podcasts


From Computing Machinery to Interaction Design

When asked to project 50 years ahead, a scientist is in a bit of a quandary. It is easy to indulge in wishful thinking, or to promote favorite current projects and proposals, but it is a daunting task to anticipate what will actually come to pass in a time span that is eons long in our modern accelerated age. If fifty years ago, when the ACM was founded, biologists had been asked to predict the next 50 years of biology, it would have taken amazing prescience to anticipate the science of molecular biology. Or for that matter, only a few years before the initiation of the ACM even those with the most insight about computing would have been completely unable to foresee today's world of pervasive workstations, mobile communicators, and gigabit networking.

Winograd, Terry. Stanford University (1997). Design>User Interface>Interaction Design


Fun Systematically

This position paper looks at two examples where the study of fun is at very least systematic, and quite possibly scientific. In the first, Virtual Crackers, a systematic process of 'deconstructing experience'; identifies the individual aspects of an experience (pulling crackers), which are then used to reconstruct a new experience in a new medium (the web).

Dix, Alan. uiGarden (2004). Articles>User Centered Design>Human Computer Interaction


Generating Automatic Website Footnotes with jQuery

Generating footnotes for HTML documents in the past was always a slow, painful task — and every time I did it, I wondered why there wasn’t a better, easier way. Today, I’m happy to announce that I’ve come up with a better solution to web footnotes using the jQuery JavaScript framework and a few tags and attributes that already exist in XHTML.

Glazebrook, Rob L. CSSnewbie (2008). Articles>Web Design>Interaction Design>Ajax



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