Interaction Design: Where the IA Rubber Meets the UX Road

Interaction Designers incorporate Information Architecture into User Experience design with the goal of creating how the users and the site will interact.

By Cathy Dew

While Information Architecture lays the groundwork for creating a great intranet or extranet User Experience, Interaction Design (ID) is where the actual site development starts to take hold.

Interaction Design takes the results gleaned from the Information Architect’s UX research, data analysis, and content modeling and starts the process of incorporating all of this intelligence into a page-level layout that integrates the tenets of task fulfillment identified by the IA.

In other words, the Interaction Designer translates what has to be done into a way to get it done. It’s about designing how the users and the site or product will interact.

The Five Dimensions of Interaction Design

The Denmark-based Interaction Design Foundation has identified five dimensions of interaction design, all equally necessary to creating a successful User Experience. If you want to elevate your site’s UX, consider how to leverage:

  1. Words that are meaningful, simple to understand, and contain enough information to inform without overwhelming the user;
  2. Visual representations—think images, typography, icons—that enhance word communications and encourage user interaction;
  3. Physical objects and physical spaces on which and where interactions will take place (on laptops or smartphones? at quiet office cubicles or on noisy subway trains?);
  4. Time as it relates to the actual motion of the media (animation, video, sounds) and the time (and patterns of time) the user spends with the site/product; and
  5. Behavior of the users when interacting with the site, including emotional responses and feedback.

Transitioning from what to how

Taking these five dimensions into account, it is the goal of Interaction Design to successfully transition the project from IA’s concepts and analyses (the whats) to the contemplation and integration of anticipated days-in-the-lives of actual users (the hows).

While certainly a challenging (and exhilarating!) step in the design process, Interaction Design can also be the most exhausting.

Just take a look at some of the goals of Interaction Design:

  • Establish a visual framework and select the layout pattern most appropriate for the site.
  • Determine what User Interface components (e.g., grids, tables, panels) can be incorporated into the project.
  • Select features based on user need.
  • Create a hierarchy for selected features.
  • Incorporate features in a manner that promotes positive UX.
  • Define mechanisms to drawing users’ attention to the information they will find most important.
  • Define mechanisms to keep users’ attention and encourage continued interest.
  • Help users achieve their goals intuitively, seamlessly, and painlessly.

2Plus2 Experts can help your project transition from IA to ID

How well you incorporate the elements of Information Architecture and Interaction Design into your intranet or external website will ultimately determine the overall level of User Experience: how your users relate to your site, and whether and how frequently they will use it.

2Plus2’s User Experience experts can seamlessly and expertly transition your project from IA to ID and beyond, while keeping UX at the forefront of design at all times. Let us show you how we work. Go online to schedule a free consultation with our team or call 510-652-7700 today.

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Cathy Dew
Cathy Dew – CEO + Information Architect
Cathy focuses the company on our mission – Real results. Every time. Information architect and strategist, Cathy is passionate about making software work well – the function, the feel, the result.
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