What is Interaction Design?


Interaction Design


Lesson Info

What is Interaction Design?

A lot of people think of interaction design as just rollovers, popups, transitions, animations, but it's actually a complex and wide-ranging field that covers nearly all aspects of human cognition, emotion and behavior. And there's a lot to take in, there's a lot of ways that you can explain what interaction design is, but one of my favorite ways of thinking about it is, say you're going shopping. You're going to a supermarket, and as you approach the entrance of the supermarket, someone stops you at the entrance and says, "Thank you for shopping at Trader Joe's. Before you can come in, can we please have your name, your address, your email, and permission to send you notifications on your phone?" I mean, how would that make you feel? That would be kind of awkward, right? (crowd laughing) And yet, this is what we see online over and over and over again, right? People asking for information before giving anything in return. So, and it's just weird, it's not how real human interaction wo...

rks. So, I looked up in the dictionary what interaction means, and what interaction is, is a reciprocal action or influence, right, the ongoing interaction between two parties. So for example, if, Claudia was your name, right? So Claudia talks to me, I talk back to Claudia, and through that ongoing interaction between us, a relationship is formed over time. So interaction is this reciprocal influence of the behavior of individuals, but this principal of reciprocal influence, it transfers over to more than individuals, right? You can have that with your pets, you can have that reciprocal influence with your stuffed animal of choice, or your favorite blanket like Linus from Charlie Brown. When I was a kid, I had a little pillow that I had a reciprocal influence with, I took that pillow everywhere. And it made a little sound that I could rub against my ear. And, I had a real relationship with this pillow. And you can also have this reciprocal influence with inanimate objects like your phone. Like a big slab of glass with a screen on it. So interaction is this reciprocal influence of the behavior of human and objects. And we build relationships with these objects that we're using, so the way that I like to think about interaction design, and what I've noticed a lot of the top designers think of it, and they might use different words, but they think of it in a similar way, where these products you're designing, they're having a conversation with the people that you're designing for. So, you know, you tap something on your phone, something happens back. When you do something again, something happens again, there's an ongoing back and forth, and this becomes, this is especially obvious with chat bots that are all the rage right now. Where this is an actual interaction between you and the computer. Oh, with Alexa, right? So, what interaction design is, at it's core, is you're creating the conversation that a product or system has with its users. So, it follows from that, if you're creating a conversation here, that when you're designing these interactions, can feel like a natural conversation. Don't be awkward, don't do things in the wrong order. This isn't just my opinion. The book I referenced earlier, Cooper, the people who literally invented the field of interaction design and wrote the book on interaction design, say something similar. Their key question is, when you're designing interactions, ask yourself, what would a helpful human do? What would a thoughtful, considerate interaction look like? So, that's what interaction design is. In the next video, we're gonna talk about the five, we're gonna start talking about the five principals of interaction design.

Class Description

Interaction design defines the relationship between people and the product they use, from computers to mobile apps and beyond. In this introductory class, industry expert Jamal Nichols will explain what Interaction Design is and how to incorporate it into your work to create more meaningful experiences. Designers tend to focus on how things look, when the focus should equally be on how things work.

In this class, Jamal covers:
  • What Interaction design is and how to think about it 
  • Core principles and methods of interaction design 
  • How to master interaction design and create experiences that flow 
 If you work in the digital space and are a new or seasoned designer, this class is for you.



After viewing this course, I have a ton of ideas to bring back to my current projects, and how I can improve my past projects, as well as best prepare for the future. Jamal's extensive experience and real-world comparative examples, helped paint the picture on how to put this course content to good use in my day-to-day design activities. I appreciate Creative Live's layout of limiting 2 questions per segment. This allowed for more time for content and I'm able to write down my questions to address and connect with Jamal offline. I'm also grateful that Jamal/Creative Live organized the course segments in a timely way that the course went fast but stayed memorable and understandable. The bonus materials are such an invaluable source of information! Jamal conveys his knowledge and passion for interaction design easily. You can tell he genuinely cares about paying his experience forward, by how he expresses his design approach and how he really listens when he's asked a question. He takes his time to think before he speaks in order to address the questions clearly so everyone can benefit. Thank you Jamal and THANK YOU CREATIVE LIVE!

Veronica Reyes

I really enjoyed this class. I've had some previous experience and training with interaction design, so this in depth course helped to re-instate core concepts and techniques as well as introducing more examples, tools, scenarios and resources that all in all made me more confident and excited about interaction design. Creative Live organized a seamless event, had delicious food, snacks and refreshments throughout the day and were very nice. Thank you CL!

Daniel Bell

This course was so much fun to watch. Jamal is a very engaging speaker and went into great detail while still being direct and to the point. The bonus videos are great! They feel like a behind the scenes look and he really goes off script to give detailed answers to questions like how to design your portfolio site. Great class!