Interaction Design is a term most people are unfamiliar with, but which plays a crucial role in today’s internet-dominated society. For me, there are three different aspects that shape and define the field: users interacting online, visualizing data and making human-computer interaction more efficient.

Users interacting online

Deviantart's mascot, Fella

Social networks are the easiest way for peaople to interact with each other, no matter the distance between them and with interaction comes discussion, ideas and collaboration. Deviantart was created in 2000 by Scott Jarkoff, Matt Stephens and Angelo Sotira to help creatives around the world share their work. The categories on the website range from traditional to digital media, from crafts to computer programming and everything in between. Users can follow each other, collaborate, critique work or form clubs around a common interest. Even today thousands of users join the community every day, only adding to its diversity.

Visualizing data

The amount of data in the world is rapidly increasing and it is quite easy to get drowned in the deluge of information. An emerging discipline in the world of design is visualizing data. Moritz Stefaner calls himself an “information visualizer” and is interested in managing data and presenting it in an aesthetically pleasing form. One of his most beautiful and useful projects is the Max Planck Research Network. The program presents itself with an intuitive interface that allows the user to track the relationships and number of works published around the world by all the branches of the Max Planck Institute. It provides an easy method for researchers to keep up to date with scientific progress.

 

 

Making human-computer interaction more efficient

Image by Wesley Fryer @flickr

In the busy world we live in today, the last thing a person would want is to spend hours with an instruction manual to figure out how a gadget or application works. A success story in this field is Pulse, an iPad news reader app developed by Ashkay Kothari and Ankit Gupta in five weeks while studying at Stanford University. They didn’t reinvent the wheel, but they’ve made it better. The main issue they’ve addressed was the fact that most users were confused by the terms RSS and Atom feed, so they have decided to take them completely out of the equation. The secret to their success was a lot of field work, mainly asking people on the street what they wanted out of a news reader application. Although the news feed is limited to only twenty, its user-friendly interface made it has earned its place in the Apple App Store Hall of Fame as one of the most popular 50 apps of all time.

To conclude, I would like to quote David Kelley, founder of IDEO. In his 2011 speech at the Aspen Ideas Festival: Designers should „paint a positive image of the future”. In my opinion, a positive image of the future is one in which technology is intuitive to use and the relationship between data is clearly defined. As digital interaction designers we should use the Internet as a playground to communicate, find inspiration and build technology that even our great-grandmothers would find user-friendly.

Read more from Ioana Enea at http://interaction.dundee.ac.uk/~ienea/wordpress/