Interaction Design

Interaction Design (short: IxD) is part of software and product development that touches on the two areas of design and HCI. The aim of interaction design is to develop interactive products, programs, services or systems. The external form of the development is less important than how the user can deal with it. Likewise, interaction design is usually not used to optimize existing products, but to develop or anticipate products required in the future.


Interaction design was born in the 1980s, when designers Bill Moggridge and Bill Verplank first mentioned the term. But it wasn't until the 1990s that the topic was taken up again by other designers and the term "interaction design" was actively used. The idea behind the term is to apply the theory of industrial design to products that are controlled by software.

Interaction Design was finally recognized in science as an independent design direction. In 1994, the first Master's degree course in Interaction Design was offered at Carneggie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, USA. Today many universities worldwide offer the course Interaction Design, which means the field centered around usability is constantly developing.


User Interface/Experience Design vs. Interaction Design[edit]

The boundaries between interaction design and user interface design or UX design are often fluid. For this reason, the individual areas are often mixed up.

Nevertheless, a possible separation can be made, because interaction design primarily aims at the interaction between man and machine as well as their exploration and optimization. On the other hand, UX design or user interface design deals with only a part of the whole. While the interface design mainly looks at the user interface, the UX design questions the possible experience a user has with the software or product. Interaction design can use both areas to improve communication between gadgets and humans.

Another difference can also be fixed. Interaction design is not limited to software and products. The theoretical foundations can also be applied to services.


Interaction Design has also evolved in some areas. Thus, Social Interaction Design examines and improves the social component of design. These include, for example, the possibilities offered by a software or service for communicating with other people. An example of this is the integration of interfaces for social media on mobile phones or in software.

With the help of emotional interaction design, a program, an app or a service generates additional emotions for the user or is designed to evoke certain feelings. This can be the sound of a car closing the passenger door as well as the colour design of app icons.

Methods and Emphases[Edit] Interaction Design is an ongoing design process based on repetitive or successive principles. The six most common ones are briefly introduced here:

  • Preliminary investigation:

To be able to get to know and define the future user better, each interaction design requires detailed research work in advance. In which environment does the user live and work? Which similar products are already available? Using these and similar questions, observations and questionnaires, Interaction Designers are given initial opportunities for their work.

  • Analysis and conception:

In the second step, the research data collected is first used to produce a sound analysis, which in turn forms the basis for initial concepts. Techniques such as brainstorming are used here. The result of the second step is ultimately a definition of objectives and concrete project planning.

  • Creation:

In this phase first drafts and variants are developed. The designs already contain the most important elements of the later product and now flow into the production of prototypes.

  • Prototyping and testing:

Designs are now turned into the first prototypes that can also be tested. Whether these are test procedures such as paper prototyping or other usability tests is up to each interaction designer. The test procedures allow the products already created to be modified and optimised once again.

  • Set up and implement:

In this phase the products are implemented directly. Changes are still possible in this process as well.

  • Final test round:

After the program has been set up, Interaction Designer test all functions again and check the product for bugs or other errors.


Among the results of interaction designers are, for example, advances in the control of computers, tablets or smartphones. These include voice control of search engines, gesture control or the use of apps on mobile phones.

An example of the result of interaction design is the gesture control of the Samsung Galaxy S5, which is explained in this video.