Interaction Design : A complete guide

Interaction Design

Interaction Design, often abbreviated as IxD, is defined as the practice of designing interactive digital products, environments, systems, and services. Unlike other design fields that focus on form, interaction design is centered on behavior, synthesizing and imagining. These things as they could be, rather than how they are. And this focus on future possibilities rather than present realities distinguishes interaction design as a field of design rather than a science or engineering discipline

What is Interaction Design ?

  1. Interaction design is a process of making computer interfaces feel human-like. Interactive digital products create this “human” connection by giving feedback to the end-users.
  2. The Interaction design focuses on human-computer interaction, including animations,  transitions, search, and other motion-based designs. 
  3. And it includes designing in such way so users engage with and experience a product, with the goal of making that interaction effective and efficient.
Interaction Design

Interaction design vs user experience design

Interaction design

1.Interaction Design is primarily concerned with the design of the interactive aspects of a product. This includes the way users interact with a product and how the product responds to user actions.

2. IxD is more focused on the micro-level interactions within a product or system.

3. IxD designers often use wireframes, prototypes, interaction flows, and behavior specifications.

User experience

1.User Experience Design is a broader discipline that encompasses all aspects of the user’s interaction. With the product, including usability, accessibility, pleasure, and overall satisfaction.

2.UX Design covers the entire user journey and experience, from initial contact through the end of use and beyond.

 3.UX designers use user personas, journey maps, wireframes, prototypes, usability testing, and user feedback.

difference between interaction designs and ux

Interaction Design Concepts and Principles

So what really pushes forward the field of interaction design? What makes it different from just design? That line is pretty blurry. We mostly talk about interaction design because it carries weight and focus. But the reality is that interaction design is just one piece of good design in terms of digital, web and application design and development. Interaction Design (IxD) is a field of design focused on creating engaging interfaces with well-thought-out behaviors. So, Here are some core concepts and principles:

Goal-driven design:

Focusing on the goals of the users and ensuring that the design helps achieve these goals efficiently.

Interface as magic:

You don’t even really see the best interfaces. But “The best interaction designs don’t exist: they don’t take a long time to load/respond; they don’t make users think; and they don’t give user’s cause for grief.”

Steps to Effective Interaction Design

Conducting User Research

User research is the cornerstone of effective interaction design. It involves gathering insights about users’ behaviors, needs, motivations, and environments. And the Interaction designers conduct user research to ensure that the product design aligns with user expectations and improves their overall experience.

Creating and Testing Prototypes

Once user research is conducted, interaction designers move to the prototype creation stage. Prototyping is a critical step as it transforms ideas into tangible products that can be interacted with. These prototypes, ranging from low-fidelity sketches to high-fidelity interactive models, allow designers and stakeholders. And to visualize and test the functionality of a design before full-scale production.

Refining Based on Feedback

The final step in effective interaction design is refining the product based on user feedback. This involves analyzing the data collected from testing the prototypes and making necessary adjustments to enhance the product’s interface and usability. And this Continuous refinement is key to developing a product that not only meets the initial design goals but also adapts to user needs over time

Popular Tools and Resources for Interaction Designers

Software Tools

Books and Online Resources

The literature available to interaction designers is both rich and diverse. Books like “Don’t Make Me Think” by Steve Krug and “The Design of Everyday Things” by Don Norman are seminal works. That delve into the principles of intuitive interface design and the psychology of everyday interactions. For those looking to deepen their understanding of user experience design, “About Face: The Essentials of Interaction Design” provides a comprehensive overview of the field

Communities and Conferences

An interaction designer will often rely on a few core methodologies and tools to keep them on track to designing the best interaction experiences. We’ve explored some common ones below: five dimensions, goal-driven design, usability, personas, cognitive psychology, and the poka-yoke principle.

Five dimensions

The five dimensions (or languages) of interaction design, first introduced by Gillian Crampton Smith and later extended (with a fifth dimension) by Kevin Silver. It is a useful model that helps interaction designers understand what’s involved in interaction design. It includes:

1) Words (1D) – the textual information is provided to users.

2) Visual representations (2D) – the graphical elements/interface elements, like iconography, imagery, and font.

3) Physical objects/space (3D) – the device or physical objects/tools used to interact with the product.

4) Time (4D) – the elements that use time, like videos or animations.

5) Behaviour (5D) – the user behaviour that is needed to help the interaction work and the system’s behaviour in response.

All five interaction design language dimensions should be considered by interaction designers for a complete and holistic understanding of how a user interacts with any element of interaction design

Goal-driven design

As discussed by author Alan Cooper, goal-driven design (also known as goal-directed or goal-oriented design) explores the end-user goal for a web page or app page. But with the user’s end goal in mind, an interaction designer should problem-solve and create interactions to help them achieve it. Rather than focus on the capabilities of the technology they provide.


Designing for usability is another core model for interaction designers. Usability focuses on whether or not someone can use an interface easily and quickly.

To make assessing usability easier, Jakob Nielsen came up with 10 general principles for interaction design called “heuristics”. They’re called heuristics because they are broad rules of thumb and not specific guidelines for interaction design. While they include (as seen on UXbooth).


Personas are semi-fictional representations of your ideal customers, based on customer insights and market research. The information for each persona includes the user’s goals, needs, and beliefs, and discusses the common behaviour patterns.

For interaction designers, personas help keep the target customer audience in mind — and by separating this audience into personas, the designers can engineer appropriate interaction experiences. Before any interaction design can go ahead, make sure to conduct user research. Read our step-by-step guide on how to create buyer personas

Cognitive dimensions

First introduced by Thomas Green in 1989/91 — the cognitive dimensions framework is a “broad-brush evaluation technique” for interactive digital products, devices, and non-interactive notations.

The framework can be used to evaluate the usability of an existing structure or design and provides a lightweight approach for interaction designers.

Cognitive dimensions have their own common vocabulary — referred to as notations — to help guide the process.

The Poka-Yoke Principle

Poka-Yoke, or mistake-proofing, is a technique that was developed by Shigeo Shingo, an industrial engineer at Toyota. It helps avoid simple human errors by providing constraints that stop a user from continuing a certain behaviour and suggests a new course of action.

In interaction design, this comes up when users encounter an error or they use a system in an unintended way. An error message is a great example of how the user interface can stop an incorrect action and suggest other actions for the user to take. The aim is to keep users moving in the direction that helps them achieve their desired end goal.

No. There is a concentration in the School of Art and Design that focuses on traditional graphic design. Interactive design is understood as the design of behavior in complex systems. whereas graphic design is the design of textual and visual form. This means that interactive design draws its methodologies as much from anthropology, psychology, information design, and computer science as it does from graphic design

Interaction Design (IxD) is the design of interactive products and services in which a designer’s focus goes beyond the item in development to include the way users will interact with it. Thus, close scrutiny of users’ needs, limitations and contexts, etc. empowers designers to customize output to suit precise demands.

Interaction design courses cultivate a range of essential skills for your professional growth. You will develop expertise in user research and analysis, wireframing and prototyping, information architecture, visual design, and usability evaluation. Besides that, you will sharpen your problem-solving abilities, collaboration skills, and communication techniques to effectively convey design solutions to stakeholders and clients.

Yes, NID Bangalore offers post-graduate design programs in various specializations, including Digital Game Design, Information Design, Retail Experience Design, Interaction Design, and Universal Design.

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Unit of Global EduCareer Solutions.
B – 1/628, 2nd Floor, JanakPuri
Delhi – 110058
Opp. Metro Pillar No. 570

Locate us :

All Rights Reserved to GICT Since 2008