One of the most common questions asked by users and designers alike is What is interaction design vs UX? We all know that interaction design encompasses what happens when a user interacts with your product, but what are some of the other differences between interaction design and UX? Let’s find out.
What is interaction design vs UX?
To help you better understand what IxD is, it’s helpful to first understand what it isn’t. Interaction Design is NOT user experience (UX). And often, when people say IxD, they are actually referring to UX. To be sure, there is an overlap between IxD and UX.
For example, both disciplines work with technology to create interactive products that solve problems and make people’s lives easier. But while IxD focuses on designing these products themselves, UX focuses on designing a product so that it solves users’ problems in a way that also makes sense for their context—which may include systems or environments external to your product itself.
User Experience (UX)
A user experience is a person’s emotions and attitudes about using a product, system, or service. It includes a person’s perceptions of their interactions with systems such as websites, software programs, devices, and services. User experience (UX) refers to a person’s emotions and attitudes about using products, services, and systems. It also includes their perceptions of their interactions with these things.
User experience is an emergent outcome of user needs and wants that result from product usage/interaction with technology or processes. For example, if a website is difficult to navigate, people may become frustrated while they’re using it. They may not be able to find what they need and there may be bugs or other issues with site features. If a user experience isn’t up to par, it can mean lost customers and bad reviews on social media or with search engines.
How to understand the difference between interaction design vs UX
Though they may sound similar, there’s a clear distinction between user experience (UX) and interactive design. The latter is a field that focuses on the aesthetics of interfaces and how users interact with them, according to Smashing Magazine. On one hand, you have usability – which refers to whether or not an interface is intuitive. On another hand, you have user experience – which looks at every touchpoint with a company or product from beginning to end (from landing page to support).
In short: User experience encompasses all aspects of your customer’s interactions; whereas, the interactive design falls within these interactions. That said, both fields contribute equally to creating smooth experiences for customers that lead to greater engagement over time. Understanding how each of these fields interacts will help you make more informed decisions when building your team and designing new interfaces. We’ll start with a look at what interactive design encompasses—from aesthetics to user experience—to help you understand where it fits into your business. Next, we’ll examine user experience so that you can see how its focus on customer engagement overlaps with what interactive designers do.
When do you need Interaction Design, when do you need UX?
While they overlap a lot, Interaction Design and User Experience are two distinct disciplines. An Interaction Designer (IXD) is concerned with how users interact with products, including their physical interactions, but also all of our non-physical gestures—things like scrolling or tapping on a touch screen. A UX designer’s job includes looking at those same interactions through a much broader lens: how can that interface help solve a specific problem? What do users need from it? And what are its chances of success within an organization’s culture? In short, who has to love your product before anyone else does?
If you’re building a product, and you haven’t yet decided what to build, you need a strategy. You don’t necessarily need a business plan per se (although it doesn’t hurt), but you do need to figure out what problem your product will solve, who its users are, and how those users will benefit from it. If your strategy includes technology—like software or hardware—then that falls into an IXD role.
Where to look for help with Interaction Design and/or UX
Several different agencies offer help with getting your interface just right, including top-notch options like Huge, Atomic, and Teak. But be sure to look beyond these big names. Because while they might have big budgets and creative resources at their disposal, most small businesses don’t. If you’re a mid-sized business or startup, it’s best to work with a smaller shop that can provide thoughtful analysis without taking a bite out of your budget in doing so.
Another option: Hire one of your team members for an hour or two per week to dedicate specifically to interaction design and/or user experience research. Always remember to consider costs when outsourcing your user experience and/or interaction design research. If you are outsourcing tasks related to building an MVP, do your best to narrow down which features and functionality make sense for launch. This will save you both time and money in not creating features that won’t provide a return on investment, as well as help, keep things user-friendly right out of the gate.