Deconstructing Interaction Design

Updated: Mar 1

What is and what is not Interaction Design? How does design differ from art?

Welcome to my first blog post about Deconstructing Interaction Design. I will write this blog during my second semester of my Interaction Design studies in ZHDK. I will be sharing Interaction Design related topics that we discuss in class plus my own thoughts about them. Hope you enjoy the blog. :)

“Design is really an act of communication, which means having a deep understanding of the person with whom the designer is communicating.”

Donald A. Norman, The Design of Everyday Things

What is interaction design?

Interaction design is the design of solutions that facilitate human-machine communication. The user is at the centre of the design. User research is a big part of the interaction designer's work. Empathy is a big part of the designer's job, as the user must be able to "put himself in the user's shoes" and REALLY understand his needs. Once the need is understood as well as possible, it is easier to design a solution. Interaction designers use tools such as scenarios and personas to humanise situations and the technology, product or service they are designing. Understanding human behaviour is important for understanding cause and effect relationships. Above you can see a screenshot of a mirror board that I created with my classmates.

What is not interaction design?

In the past, when I was studying wearable design, I was haunted by the idea that what I was doing was pointless. That it didn't really matter to anyone whether this seam was here or ten centimetres higher. I sometimes found it really difficult to find a use for my designs, because here in the welfare countries there are more than enough clothes and not many clothes really have that much use other than being aesthetically pleasing to look at. When I attended a User-centred Design course in my previous university, my brain exploded. This is what design is supposed to be about ! Interaction Design is not just about designing something visually cool. As an Interaction Designer I am not designing something for myself and therefore I should not ask myself or the company I represent what we want to achieve. I ask the user.

What are the differences between art and design?

The distinction between art and designing is quite blurred. Art can be interactive and design can be aesthetic. We wrote on the Miro-board that as a designer you rarely put yourself at the centre of a product or service. Artists often have their own style which is very visible. Designers may also have one, but the point of the final product is usually the functionality of the product or service. In an interactive device or service the main point is that the user can do a task easily and preferably without noticing the interface. Another difference is that design usually always have context that brings boundaries. Art can be out of context but still work. Art is about interpretation thus design is more straight forward and focusing on the task. But, good design can also be art and art can contain good design. As I said, I think the line is blurred.

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