What is Interaction Design?

Updated: Sep 13

The aim of the following chapter is to provide an introductory overview of the concept and the field of interaction design, loosely grounded in historical developments. This encyclopedia covers the full gamut of human-computer interaction (HCI), and it should be noted that interaction design covers only a part of the HCI field. My intention here is to provide a frame of reference that can be used in reading other, more substantial chapters to start filling the notion of interaction design with solid topical content. This chapter itself is brief and superficial, paints with a broad brush; yet it is my hope that it conveys some of the key characteristics and considerations of interaction design, thus informing the reading of the topical chapters.

The interaction design label remained relatively marginal until the mid-1990s; the design community largely considered the behaviors of the virtual world to be a specialty within industrial design. During this period, academia as well as ICT industries were mainly occupied with usability and human factors engineering, focusing on ways to operationalize psychology and ergonomics into methods for creating efficient and error-free interactions to support work tasks.

1.1 Five major characteristics of interaction design

With the increasing penetration of the Internet, the advent of home and leisure computing, and eventually the emergence of digital interactive consumer products, the two cultures of design and engineering gravitated towards a common interest in discretionary use and user experience. Towards the turn of the century, the notion of interaction design started to gain in popularity as a way to acknowledge a more designerly approach to the topic - going beyond pure utility and efficiency to consider also aesthetic qualities of use, for example.

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