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Is interaction design just for designers?

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Ok, so if you got to this point, you’re maybe interested in interaction design and what it’s all about for converting users and customers. What does interaction design mean, then?

Well… here’s pretty much the easiest way for me as a user to find out:

Unlike Google's top-result 'preview' pane, that weird circle image tells me nothing about interaction design. :(
Google’s answer box helps. That weird circle image, on the other hand, doesn’t give me anything.

Interaction design at work — 3 (easy) steps

1) I go to my web browser and type in “interaction design” (in Chrome, it’s worth noting for the purposes of this article: anywhere in the browser search bar rather than having to scroll, type and then click to a new page).

2) I see Google’s answer box, a Wikipedia entry “preview,” immediately on load in the search results page, telling me it’s “the practice of designing interactive digital products, environments, systems, and services.” Ok; I’m in the right spot. But that’s a little vague, which prompts me to click through to the Wiki page to get a more in-depth definition.

3) Where am I going with this? #1 and 2 are digital interactions that Google has designed so that I might get as rapidly as possible to the information in question.

It’s true — as we can see in just about any example, a little more than design is needed for interaction design to work beautifully and simply.

Interaction design involves a whole team

In other words: it involves everything from architecture to user experience strategy to content to interface design to the well-planned execution (development) of these creative and strategic efforts. The end result? A well-made “virtual product” that will win hearts and minds… and keep users coming back to your site/app/platform/[fill in the blank] rather than your competitor’s.

Ok, I’m biased. I’ll admit it.

Based on experience, my thinking is that a successful, user-centric approach to interactivity in the digital space is more than great design – a well-thought content strategy, for example, can and should inform design, and vice-versa.

It’s incumbent on everyone to get at the winning formula behind the best user experience designs that we use and (some of us, at least) admire every day. So what is it?

It’s fluidity. Left-brain ↔ right-brain.

Lesson: be fluid

Understanding the fluidity between creative and strategic disciplines in interaction design – left-brain and right-brain – is critical to grasp this idea as it’s being defined and thought about today.

That means more than just being OK with “ambiguity” in the workspace, as I see it. It means actively seeking a collaborative approach from talented designers, strategists, et al, which makes for an all-around better end product.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments section below.

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