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Interaction Design Guide: How to Do IxD in 7 Easy to Follow Steps

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Interaction design is all the rage with B2B digital marketers and audiences alike.

If you’re not familiar with interaction design or IxD, you should know that the term interaction design was first coined by Bill Verplank and Bill Moggridge back in the mid-80s.

The pair coined that term from a different term used by computer scientists, user interface.

It would take ten years for other designers to catch on to the revolutionary concept of interaction design. And now here we are.

Let’s delve into this exciting approach to digital design so you can determine how it can help you please your audience and ramp up your online success.

What is Interaction Design?

When looking up the definition of interaction design, you may come across a variety of concepts and beliefs, but one thing holds true among all of these: Audience enjoyment.

When you break it all down, interaction design in digital marketing terms is all about maximizing the way visitors feel when interacting with your website, app, landing page, or whatever else you have published online for audience consumption.

Techopedia is a tad more technical with their definition of interaction design.

“Interaction design (IxD) is a process in which technology products and solutions are designed to center on the human behavior, interaction, and utilization of a product.

IxD enables the building of a technology product by focusing on its visual interface and interaction, rather than the underlying functionality.”

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Given this definition, you could say that interaction designers are tasked with creating meaningful relationships between people and the products and services they use.

Interaction design can be applied to the Internet of Things (IOT), which means that connections are made between people, computers, mobile devices, applications, and even appliances.

When discussing interaction design in digital marketing terms, we’re referring to making your website, apps, and other digital properties highly usable, and enjoyable for your core audience.

Interaction design requires you to get constant feedback from your audience to ensure that you are indeed maximizing usability and enjoyment with every online touchpoint experienced by your prospects and customers.

What is the Interaction Design Process?

Once again, the concepts of interaction design as they’re used here are designed for digital marketing.

Each of the steps involves the improvement of all the elements visitors to your web properties might experience, including the images, text, ease of filling out forms, and every aspect in between.

The process involves heavy focus on the five dimensions of interaction.

1D: Words

The text on your website, along with CTAs contained within your buttons, should be clear and simple to understand. The information should be tightly constructed so as to communicate the necessary information to users and in such a way that it doesn’t overwhelm.

2D: Visuals

This dimension refers to the aesthetics of your site, which include the layout, colors, and images. Also included are any logos or icons that visitors may interact with.

When used properly, your visuals complement your words so that they create a cohesive digital message that contributes to user enjoyment.

3D: Physical Objects & Space

In digital marketing terms, this dimension refers to how visitors to your web presence interact physically. Are they using a mouse or swiping on a smartphone?

This dimension goes a bit deeper, however, and also analyzes what users are doing while they’re interacting with your site. Are they using a tablet to view your website while watching Netflix?

Are visitors at work? These environments will all affect the interactions between your prospects and your web presence.

4D: Time

When we analyze a website for digital marketing success, we may look at the time spent on site. This is one instance of how time can be measured to gauge visitor enjoyment. The longer someone spends on a page, the better, as that indicates user enjoyment.

This dimension is also about analyzing how visitors gauge their own time spent. Are they able to save time through the use of your web presence and is your web marketing funnel as efficient as it could be?

5D: Behavior

This dimension speaks to how visitors tend to use your web properties. Which steps do they take to visit particular pages on your website?

Which calls-to-action do they tend to click and how do visitors feel as they’re navigating your app, website, or landing page?

Interaction Design (IxD) vs User Experience (UX) Design

While you may think that the use of all of these dimensions sounds very similar to User Experience Design or UX, you’d be correct. The two concepts do overlap.

User Experience also focuses on users’ enjoyment as they navigate your website and other web properties. UX involves heavy amounts of visitor research, and the development of buyer personas, along with A/B testing, usability testing, and so on.

Interaction design focuses on how visitors feel when they’re interacting with your web presence, and therein lies the primary difference.

With interaction design, you need constant feedback from your audience if you hope to tweak your design to reach maximum enjoyment for the majority of your web visitors.

Benefits of Interaction Design to Your Digital Strategy

Interaction design will help you perfect your web properties in untold ways.

For instance, by gaining valuable feedback from your audience, you’ll learn all the ways users interact with your web properties, whether they’re using their fingers, a mouse, a stylus, or another type of interface.

When you know all the ways that users are interacting, you can go about maximizing the enjoyment of all of those avenues, as well as streamline processes to make your web presence and marketing efforts more efficient.

You’ll learn which colors incite particular behaviors, such as getting your audience to act.

Through the use of interaction design, you can learn if error messages provide visitors with ways to correct their behavior or explain why the error occurred.

You can determine if elements like text, images, and CTA buttons are the proper size and if your web presence is using standard formats to simplify usability for all users.

How to Do IxD in 7 Easy to Follow Steps

If all of this information sounds a bit abstract, not to worry.

Here is how to maximize user interaction with IxD in seven simple steps.

#1 Directing Attention

This is a good example of how interactive design works. Visitors to your web presence will interact with your site according to those things that direct their attention. This is where animation comes in, various colors and images, and CTA button text.

Go through your site according to all five dimensions of user interaction and analyze those elements that get the most amounts of attention.

Preattentive Processing

This is one area where preattentive processing comes into play, which plays a critical role in human vision.

Basically, preattentive processing refers to how humans process their visual environment. As you know, humans process visual information fairly rapidly, within 200 to 500 milliseconds to be exact.

Using this information, your job as an interaction designer is to take into consideration those aspects that direct the attention the most and create a hierarchy.

What elements are noticed first? Are they your colors, layout, the movement of certain dynamic content?

Next, you’ll want to see your site through the eyes of a new visitor, if you can. Go through those elements and determine if they are the best they could be. Or, if you might be able to improve elements to direct attention to the areas that matter most to improving user enjoyment.

#2 Educating Customers

Visitors experiencing your website, app, or other web property for the first time are likely looking for information.

Whether text-based or image-based, this information should be delivered in such a way so as to educate without overwhelming web users.

Features vs Benefits

When seeking to educate your audience, you may be focusing too much on the features of your products and services.

While these are important, interaction design calls for more benefits to be discussed in your web content.

Remember, interaction design is about how users feel when they’re interacting with your site. When you speak more about benefits than features, you’re relaying all those ways that your customers’ lives can be improved by choosing your brand over the competition.

The benefits of a product might be time-saving or money-saving or even stress-reducing, but they should be mentioned if you hope to evoke emotion and create more enjoyment for all of your web audience members.

#3 Evoking Emotion

Here we want to reiterate the fact that it’s emotion that drives most web decisions. A person doesn’t buy because they want a product. They buy because of how that product makes them feel.

For instance, a software program that helps marketers make their businesses more efficient may read your list of features, and then shrug and wonder if the product is indeed for them.

Effective marketers, however, know that if you can build emotion, you can create excitement which motivates people to convert and ultimately buy.

Instead of droning on about all the features, talk about how your service or product can improve your visitors lives and help them envision all the ways their lives will be positively affected by taking action, whether they’re clicking, subscribing, or buying from you.

Added Tip: Value Proposition

While you’re at it, you need to set yourself apart by making your prospects see that the benefits of your products and services are superior to the competition.

If your value proposition isn’t as strong as it could be, your interaction design will suffer, as will your conversions.

Make sure you’re telling prospects with your text, images, layout, and all other web elements why your organization is different and why they should be selecting your offerings above all others.

#4 Decision Making

Why do your prospects make the decisions they do? To find out, it’s necessary to conduct a little interaction design analysis.

Go through your website like a new visitor and ask yourself why you’re clicking and hovering and taking the actions that you do. Are your words directing you? Is it the design or are the colors of your web presence dictating what actions your visitors take?

Analyzing your site in this manner can give you unique insights that can help you streamline your site for quicker, more efficient action.

This helps to shorten the time from lead to customer and makes your web funnel more efficient for a variety of benefits, including increasing profits.

Added Tip: Avoid Decision Paralysis and Analysis Paralysis

First of all, you’ll want to check your website for any area where visitors may experience the phenomenon known as decision paralysis. That’s when your website visitors are presented with so many choices that they end up not making any decisions at all and instead exit your site.

Make sure to ask yourself: are you giving your site visitors too many options so that they remain frozen with inaction? If so, remove a few choices to create a more efficient conversion process.

On the other hand, you’ll want to avoid experiencing analysis paralysis. Don’t get so hung up on the details of tweaking your interaction design that you wind up not making any changes at all.

The best course is to test various changes, assess the results, and then change them back or proceed. A website will always evolve and interaction design is an ongoing process.

The most important lesson is to act and then take notes if your actions worked. If not, it’s not the end of the world. You’re still learning about your audience and soon, with enough effort, you’ll have the interaction design that maximizes your visitors enjoyment and your web marketing results.

#5 Trust & Credibility

As you go through your website like a new visitor, try to determine if you actually trust your website. Does the design look professional? Would you have any qualms about inserting your credit card number to make a purchase?

If you decide that your site could use a little work in the credibility department, adding customer testimonials, other company logos, and positive online reviews to your web properties can help.

Make sure you put the proper security protocols in place to protect your visitors’ information, such as security https encryption.

#6 Creating a Path

Your website shouldn’t become a maze that visitors need to toil through in order to achieve their goals.

Instead, your job with interaction design is to not only make the experience of your web presence more enjoyable, but also to create a clear and efficient path to the conversion.

Whether this means making your app easier to use, making sure your website visitors can find anything they need in one or two clicks, or simplifying your landing page to include a simple form and little else.

Whatever your users want, deliver it quickly and efficiently for maximum enjoyment. That’s what interaction design is all about.

#7 Re-Engaging Customers

Too many digital marketers only pay attention to new leads and first-time customers.

However, many consumers would rather purchase products from places they’ve already bought from. That may include your website or e-commerce store.

As you complete an interaction design analysis and look at your web presence with fresh eyes, determine how you can entice former customers to return and buy again.

By focusing on return customers just as much as new customers, you can develop a loyalty loop that keeps your business profitable for years to come.

Interaction Design Examples

Now let’s look at two interaction examples that have really gone above and beyond when it comes to creating an enjoyable web experience.

#1 Mote Marine Laboratory

Mote Marine Laboratory, a leading marine research organization, was having a difficult time explaining to site visitors what exact purpose it served.

Taking interaction design into consideration, the new Mote Marine Laboratory site is pleasing to the eye, highly-functional, and responsive.

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Since the lab has a variety of audiences visiting its site, from fellow scientists to college students, the lab needed a site that catered to each of those audiences.

By making the web viewing experience enjoyable for all audiences, the new Mote Marine Laboratory site is an excellent example of interaction design.

#2 Well & Being

Well and Being invites you to find your happy place and stay there.

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Considered an enhanced, luxury spa experience, the business integrates holistic wellness with other mind and body methodologies and techniques.

The company recently updated their website to become far more interactive, intuitive, and natural with regards to navigation. This allows site visitors to explore the spa’s myriad services and find the treatments that are right for them.

Instead of a super menu like the site used to have, the website is streamlined and designed for quick and efficient conversions.

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The change to a leaner, more streamlined design enhances the enjoyability of all users and makes the Well and Being website another great example of interaction design.

Final Tip to Implement Interaction Design on Your Website

Remember, to properly engage in interaction design, you need plenty of visitor feedback. The good news is that there are a variety of tools today to make constant visitor feedback possible and convenient.

Crazy Egg, for instance, offers a 30-day free trial. Using Crazy Egg, you can assess the various ways individuals use your site, which navigation paths they take, which form fields they fill out, which images they click on, and which calls-to-action they follow.

Test Your Website Elements’ Performance with Crazy Egg Tools

Another useful aspect of Crazy Egg is the ability to A/B and multivariate test your web elements to determine which ones are most popular with site users.

All of this functionality, including the ability to use heatmaps, website visitor recordings, and website snapshots, allows you to determine what visitors are feeling and if your site is as interactively designed as it could be.

Conclusion

You now have quite a few ways to improve the interaction design of your web presence.

If all of this sounds overwhelming, not to worry. Interaction design isn’t a process that’s completed in a day or even a week.

Instead, interaction design is an ongoing process that lets you improve your site over time.

The first step is to look at your web presence with fresh eyes and assess the five dimensions of interactivity.

Then, go through each of the seven stages of interaction design and tweak your site accordingly.

Finally, use Crazy Egg, with its 30-day free trial, to assess and test your web presence for maximum usability, functionality, and enjoyment.

When you’re able to tick all those boxes, your site will be designed with interaction in mind and your visitors’ enjoyment as well as your site conversions are sure to improve as a result.


Jason is highly-skilled in search engine optimization, inbound marketing, and digital marketing for B2B & B2C. He has written for USAA, Vonigo, SEMRush, and many other top brands around the world.

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