Interaction design from multiple perspectives

Dan Saffer introduced an interesting fact in interaction design in his book Design for interaction. The goal of interaction design is to design possible interactions for users to accomplish their goal or product or service. The interactions have to fit the time and context of the product.

Even the goal of interaction is the same, different designers might do it in many different ways depending on their experiences. One factor affecting their design is their perspective toward the design project.

Saffer suggested three perspectives.

1. Technology-centered view – designing interactions for the raw product created from software engineer or programmers in order to create good user experience.

2.Behaviorist view – designing the behavior and feedback of the product to serve the needs of the user. The focus is on the function and the feedback.

3.Social interaction design view – designing interaction between people that use the product regardless of the number of device or type of device they use. The focus is on the communication between people.


Good Design: Beer Dispenser

Beer Dispenser

Beer Dispenser

I found this beer dispenser when I was during a vacation in California. It was in a restaurant that also provide alcoholic beverage to customers.

The designer well considered both the usability and the aesthetic of the dispenser. The size and the position of the handled hint the user that he has to operate by hand. The spaces between handles give the sense of direction to operate. These two are quite common in this kind of appliance.

However, special characteristic of the dispenser that I would like to point out is the appearance of the handles. Shape and colors of each handle represent the brand of the beers. For sure, one reason is beauty. Another reason may be marketing. Moreover, from the usability point of view, the different shape of the handles also prevents user from mistakes. The user who frequently use the dispenser can easily find out if he wrongly pick a handle by the feeling from his hand. He will notice the error before he actually operate it. The different of shape of handles is also applied for equipments in operations that mistakes are unacceptable such as power plants.



Faces in Designs

If a picture is worth a thousand words, a picture of a face is worth more than that! The article “The Power of Faces in User Experience” pointed out that a picture of a face can convey more than the meaning of the object itself. A face can be used to encode implicit messages of emotions, which most humans are familiar with the interpretation of those messages. It would be great for designers to implement images of faces with proper implicit message to enhance their design.

Besides the capability to encode messages, faces are good to attract human eyes. There is a human nature that we can easily recognize faces. Faces in this case are not only a real faces of human or animal, but also the combination of things that looks like a face. So, in a design, faces can be either a good attractive spot or great distraction. The designers have to pay attention to those faces in their design. Moreover, a designer can use the orientation of a face to induce viewer to pay attention to certain direction.

How to completely merge your design with the existing products

When you design a product as a new part of the existing one for an organization, your design may not completely merged as it should. The article “Fixing A Broken User Experience” proposes five-step strategy to make sure that your design is smoothly blended with the existing product. The strategy is backward comparing to ordinary steps in design. However, the writer claims that it leads to the best user experience.

Breakthrough ideas: Sleeping bag

Zippered Vents Sleeping Bag

Normal sleeping prevents a user from changing sleep posture. However, there was a cool idea that eliminated the limitation. The Zippered Vents Sleeping Bag allows a user to personally adjust sleep posture. With the vertical zips along the bag’s length, a user can open or close each zip to suit his/her own need. The user can even close all zips for a normal sleeping bag. This is a product with a great idea of flexibility, which enables better user experience.

Breakthrough ideas: Mobile business application without coding

Usually, people in business word have no programming skills, but they have good understanding of their own business. They know exactly what kind of mobile applications they want. The only thing they need is a tool to create the desired applications.

The idea of creating mobile applications without coding is a great idea for them, especially people that have small businesses. Business owners can use the combination of basic interactions such as clicks and drag and drop to create mobile applications. Those people do not need technical knowledge. Things they need are good design of the application and understanding of data. Then, those people can create the product by themselves saving time and budget.

Bad Design: A coffee cup

Coffee cup

This cup was a kind of creative work. The shape of the cup is interesting, which may positively impact on user’s emotion. However, the cup may create poor user experience. The edge of a cup affects direction of the drink inside. With this wavy edge, a user could split the drink easily because of multiple flows of the drink generated from each curve. This cup shows us that the beauty of the design is useless if the product cannot fulfill user’s goal.


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