When someone mentions ‘interactive design’, what first comes to mind? Touch screens? Instructions? Animations? These are just some common aspects that people generally grasp. What they fail in realising is that our lives and daily environments are surrounded by interactive design, which by definition is a product of shaping our everyday lives through digital artefacts. Loosely put, without such productions, getting through each passing day would be a tedious and bothersome task in today’s technological age.
As stated by Bill Verplank, an interaction designer has 3 questions to answer: How do you do? How do you feel? How do you know? By answering these simple questions, the designer is able to successfully create a product that is intuitive but also evokes a meaningful reaction.
What is often overlooked is that being an interactive designer is a multidisciplinary pursuit. I.e. Ergonomics, Graphic Design, Cognitive Science etc. Although it is essential to collaborate with someone who specialises in a certain area, an interactive designer should develop the basic knowledge of most to maximise efficiency. Its diverse nature of the role introduces various approaches and solutions to conceptual frameworks.
Although interactive design products cater to their particular audience, it can offer new ideas and understandings about ourselves, others and the world. Being aware of these factors, the designers study how people receive and process the information presented. By collecting this data, they are able to create a meaningful experience – either physical, emotional or psychological – for their audience by translating their concept to screen reaction.
To an extent, interactivity allows the audience to have control over the tools and content being presented to them and offers the choice to manipulate these aspects to their favour – whether it be productive or creative. Now, take a moment and recall the last interactive product you used and consider how it impacted and changed your point of view. What did you learn? What reactions were evoked? What did it make you feel? Knowledge and wisdom are something that is obtained through interaction which impacts the level of experience. With the absence of interactivity, it will be difficult to evolve and connect with ourselves and our surroundings.
Here are some examples of interactive websites to help develop a better visual understanding on what it is.
Bond Cars was established for the James Bond’s fans to interact with. Through parallax scrolling, it showcases the numerous bond cars that made an appearance in every film. It isn’t heavily content based yet has enough information to tell a story.
Font Walk is a website that was developed by a German agency which explores a different approach to representing font.
The Listner’s Playlist is an archive of music which is run by the music community. Most of the elements are animated in a way which reflects the nature of the site – music.