Interaction design, also known as IxD, is an integral part of the process in designing and developing a successful website or app. According to Wikipedia, Interaction Design “is the practice of designing interactive digital products, environments, systems, and services.” To take that a bit further, it is a design discipline that deals with the situations in which people and machines come together. For websites, interaction design describes and shows how the interaction between the visitor and the website is going to work. How does the navigation work? How is the content presented? How will visitors complete complex tasks? How will the goals of the website be realized? These are just a few questions that interaction design, or the interaction designer, tries to answer.

What Does an Interaction Designer Do?

The interaction designer has a number of jobs to complete. A very important job, one that can make or break a website, is to determine the primary tasks that the target audience will want to perform. Second are the user scenarios. Which actions will visitors have to take to complete a task? By using wireframes, important tasks can be visualized as a user path. Last would be a sitemap, which details the content of the website. The preparation of a sitemap may seem simple, but depending on the size of the website, it can require a lot of research and attention expertise. For larger websites, the interaction designer will sometimes work with an information architect to complete this task.

How Wireframes Can Play A Key Role

Wireframes for a large website or web application are arguably the most important contribution by the interaction designer. The flow chart is a master view of user scenarios, which describes complex tasks such as the steps necessary to book a vacation or to purchase a product. The flow chart describes all possible routes a visitor can take to arrive at the same solution, giving insight into non-linear processes and paths. This provides a point where you can test the usability of a website at an early stage, allowing adjustments to be made easily early on in the project where the effects of the adjustments can be tested immediately.

Conclusion

No matter how basic a website is, interaction design can improve the usability of that site by giving unique insights into the interaction between user and website at an early stage in the development process. The wireframes are also helpful when it comes to managing expectations. They are a good way to avoid wasting time and money on expensive re-design by working the kinks out early

Written By: Scott Whitehead