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10 Most Important Interaction Design Principles

7 minutes, 7 seconds read

The process of interaction design involves studying the behavior and structure of interactive systems and implementing them for developing useful digital products. In other words, interaction design is the relationship between user and product and the services they use.

The purpose of interaction design is to create a great user experience. That’s why most of the UI disciplines require understanding and hands-on experience of interaction design principles. After all, it’s about designing for the entire interconnected system: the device, interface, context, environment, and people. Interaction designers strive to create meaningful relationships between people and the products and services they use. It may include computers, mobile devices, gadgets, appliances, and more.

It is important to understand ux design best practices while developing complex web and mobile applications. These are the key elements that product designers should not neglect while creating an interface for the user. 

The 10 most important interaction design principles are-

  1. UX: Match user experience and expectations
  2. Consistent design: Maintain consistency throughout the application
  3. Functionality: Follow functional minimalism
  4. Cognition: Reduce cognitive loads/mental pressure to understand the application
  5. Engagement: Design interactively such that it keeps the user engaged.
  6. User control: Allow the user to control, trust, and explore
  7. Perceivability: Invite interactions through intuitions and interactive media
  8. Learnability: Make user interactions easy to learn and remember
  9. Error handling: Take care to prevent errors, if they occur make sure to detect and recover them.
  10. Affordability: Simulate actions by taking inspiration from usual and physical world interactions.

10 Important Interaction Design Principles

#1 Match user experience and expectations

By matching the sequence of steps, layout of information, and terminology used with the expectation and prior experiences of the users, designers can reduce the friction and discomfort of learning a new system.

You can match your audience’s prior experiences and expectations by using common conventions or UI patterns, for example, Hitee Chatbot.

#2 Consistency

Along with matching people’s expectations through terminology, layout, and interactions, the design should be consistent throughout the process and between related applications. 

By maintaining consistency, you are helping users learn more quickly. You can re-apply their prior experiences from one part of an application to another to maintain consistency throughout the design. Design consistency is also an aid to intuitive interfaces.

Bonus – you can use the inconsistencies to indicate to users where things might not work the way they expect. Breaking consistency is similar to knowing when to be unconventional.

#3 Functional minimalism

“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler.” 

Albert Einstein

The range of possible actions should be no more than is absolutely necessary. Providing too many options will detract the primary function and reduce usability by overwhelming the user with choices. To achieve the Zen of functional minimalism, you should-

  1. Avoid unnecessary features and functions
  2. Break complex tasks into manageable sub-tasks
  3. Limit functions rather than the user experience.
Key elements of interaction design

#4 Cognitive loads

Cognition refers to the “process of thoughts.” A good user interactive design minimizes the user’s “effort to think” to complete a task. Another way to put this is that a good assistant uses his skills to help the master focus on his skills.

For instance, while designing an interactive interface, we need to understand how much concentration a task requires to complete it. Accordingly, you can design the UI that reduces the cognitive load as much as possible. 

Here’s a technique to reduce users’ “thinking work.” Focus on what the computer is good at and build a system that utilizes its abilities to the fullest. Remember, computers are good at-

  • Maths
  • Remembering things
  • Keeping track of things
  • Comparing things
  • Spell Checking and spotting/correcting errors

The point is – by knowing the attributes of users and products, one can create a design for a better user experience.

#5 Engagement

In terms of user experience, engagement is the measure of the extent to which the user has a positive experience with your product. An engaging experience is not only enjoyable but also easier and productive. Engagement is subjective to the system. I.e. your design must engage with the desired audience. For instance, what appeals to teenagers might be irrelevant to their grandparents. Apart from aligning your design for the appropriate audience, achieving and creating control is the key.

The interaction design principles state that users should always feel like they’re in control of the experience. They must constantly experience a sense of achievement through positive feedback/results or feel like they’ve created something.

In his book “Flow,” Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi describes a state of optimal experience where people are so engaged in the activity that the rest of the world falls away. Flow is what we’re looking to achieve through engaging interactions. We should allow users to concentrate on their work and not on the user interface. In short, stay out of the way!

#6 Control, trust, and explorability

Good interaction design should incorporate control, trust, and explorability to any system. If users feel in control of the process, they’ll be more comfortable using the system. If the user is comfortable and in control, they’ll trust the system and believe that the application will prevent them from making an unrecoverable error or from feeling stupid. Trust inspires confidence and with confidence, the user is free to explore further. Intuitive interfaces are extremely good at stimulating users to navigate and explore the app.

#7 Perceivability

People are aware of the opportunity to interact with interactive media. As interface designers, we must avoid developing hidden interactions, which decrease the usability, efficiency, and user experiences. In other words, people should not have to guess or look for opportunities to interact.

When developing interactive media, users should have the ability to review an interface and identify where they can interact. We must remember that not everyone experiences and interacts with interface in the same way others do. In the process of interaction design, make it a habit to provide hints and indicators like buttons, icons, textures, textiles, etc. Let the user see that these visual cues can be clicked or tapped with their fingers. Always consider the usability and accessibility of the interactive media and how the user sees and perceives the objects in the interface.

How users perceive the opportunity to interact with a digital media

#8 Learnability

Another important interaction design principle is inducing the ability to learn to use the interface easily. In other words, users should be able to learn to use the interface in the first attempt and should not face issues using it again. Please note that engaging interfaces allow users to easily learn and remember the interactions.

Even though simple interfaces may require a certain amount of experience to learn, learnability makes interaction intuitive. People tend to interact with an interface similar to other interfaces. This is the reason why we must understand the process of interaction design thoroughly and the importance of design patterns and consistency. 

Intuitive interface design allows users to learn to use the interface without much effort and gives them a sense of achievement. They feel smart and capable of grasping and utilizing newer interfaces. In a nutshell, product designers should let the user feel confident while navigating through the interface.

#9 Error prevention, detection, and recovery

The best way to reduce the number of errors a user makes is to anticipate possible mistakes and prevent them from happening in the first place. If the errors are unavoidable, we need to make them easy to spot and help the user to recover from them quickly and without unnecessary friction.

Error prevention techniques-

  • Disabling functions that aren’t relevant to the user
  • Using appropriate controls to constrain inputs (e.g. radio buttons, dropdowns, etc.)
  • Providing clear instructions and preemptive help
  • As a last resort, provide clear warning messages.

How to handle application errors through design?

Anticipate possible errors and provide feedback that helps users verify that-

  1. They’ve done what they intended to do.
  2. What they intended to do was correct.

Please note that providing feedback by changing the visuals of the object is more noticeable than a written message.

Error recovery techniques – 

If the error is unavoidable, provide direction to the user to recover from it. For example, you can provide “back,” “undo,” or “cancel” buttons.

If a specific action is irreversible, you should flag it “critical” and make the user confirm first to prevent slip-ups. Alternatively, you can create a system that naturally defaults to a less harmful state. For example, closing a document without saving it should be intelligent enough to know the unlikely behavior of the user. It can either auto-save or display a warning.

The spectrum of user interface : interaction design principles

#10 Affordance

Affordance is the quality of an object that allows an individual to perform an action. For example, a standard household light switch appears innately clickable. 

The point is – users should get a clue about how to use an abject through its physical appearance. While designing user interfaces, you can achieve affordance either by simulating ‘physical world’ affordances (e.g. buttons or switches) or keeping consistency with web standards and interface design elements (e.g. underlined links or default button styles). The thing is, in an intuitive interface, users are able to navigate and use the functionalities of the application without any formal training.

Interaction design is not always about creating a better interface for the users; it is also about using technology in the way people want. It is necessary to know the target users to design a desirable product for them. Interactive design is the basis for the success of any product. These 10 interaction design principles are based on the study and experiences of our team in designing mobile and web apps for a broad product portfolio and on multiple mobile and web platforms.

Drop us a word at hello@mantralabsglobal.com to learn more about our interaction design projects and services.

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Implementing a Clean Architecture with Nest.JS

4 minutes read

This article is for enthusiasts who strive to write clean, scalable, and more importantly refactorable code. It will give an idea about how Nest.JS can help us write clean code and what underlying architecture it uses.

Implementing a clean architecture with Nest.JS will require us to first comprehend what this framework is and how it works.

What is Nest.JS?

Nest or Nest.JS is a framework for building efficient, scalable Node.js applications (server-side) built with TypeScript. It uses Express or Fastify and allows a level of abstraction to enable developers to use an ample amount of modules (third-party) within their code.

Let’s dig deeper into what is this clean architecture all about. 

Well, you all might have used or at least heard of MVC architecture. MVC stands for Model, View, Controller. The idea behind this is to separate our project structure into 3 different sections.

1. Model: It will contain the Object file which maps with Relation/Documents in the DB.

2. Controller: It is the request handler and is responsible for the business logic implementation and all the data manipulation.

3. View: This part will contain files that are concerned with the displaying of the data, either HTML files or some templating engine files.

To create a model, we need some kind of ORM/ODM tool/module/library to build it with. For instance, if you directly use the module, let’s say ‘sequelize’, and then use the same to implement login in your controller and make your core business logic dependent upon the ‘sequelize’. Now, down the line, let’s say after 10 years, there is a better tool in the market that you want to use, but as soon as you replace sequelize with it, you will have to change lots of lines of code to prevent it from breaking. Also, you’ll have to test all the features once again to check if it’s deployed successfully or not which may waste valuable time and resource as well. To overcome this challenge, we can use the last principle of SOLID which is the Dependency Inversion Principle, and a technique called dependency injection to avoid such a mess.

Still confused? Let me explain in detail.

So, what Dependency Inversion Principle says in simple words is, you create your core business logic and then build dependency around it. In other words, free your core logic and business rules from any kind of dependency and modify the outer layers in such a way that they are dependent on your core logic instead of your logic dependent on this. That’s what clean architecture is. It takes out the dependency from your core business logic and builds the system around it in such a way that they seem to be dependent on it rather than it being dependent on them.

Let’s try to understand this with the below diagram.

Source: Clean Architecture Cone 

You can see that we have divided our architecture into 4 layers:

1. Entities: At its core, entities are the models(Enterprise rules) that define your enterprise rules and tell what the application is about. This layer will hardly change over time and is usually abstract and not accessible directly. For eg., every application has a ‘user’. What all fields the user should store, their types, and relations with other entities will comprise an Entity.

2. Use cases: It tells us how can we implement the enterprise rules. Let’s take the example of the user again. Now we know what data to be operated upon, the use case tells us how to operate upon this data, like the user will have a password that needs to be encrypted, the user needs to be created, and the password can be changed at any given point of time, etc.

3. Controllers/Gateways: These are channels that help us to implement the use cases using external tools and libraries using dependency injection.

4. External Tools: All the tools and libraries we use to build our logic will come under this layer eg. ORM, Emailer, Encryption, etc.

The tools we use will be depending upon how we channel them to use cases and in turn, use cases will depend upon the entities which is the core of our business. This way we have inverted the dependency from outwards to inwards. That’s what the Dependency Inversion Principal of SOLID implies.

Okay, by now, you got the gist of Nest.JS and understood how clean architecture works. Now the question arises, how these two are related?  

Let’s try to understand what are the 3 building blocks of Nest.JS and what each of them does.

  1. Modules: Nest.JS is structured in such a way that we can treat each feature as a module. For eg., anything which is linked with the User such as models, controllers, DTOs, interfaces, etc., can be separated as a module. A module has a controller and a bunch of providers which are injectible functionalities like services, orm, emailer, etc.
  1. Controllers: Controllers in Nest.JS are interfaces between the network and your logic. They are used to handle requests and return responses to the client side of the application (for example, call to the API).
  1. Providers (Services): Providers are injectable services/functionalities which we can inject into controllers and other providers to provide flexibility and extra functionality. They abstract any form of complexity and logic.

To summarize,

  • We have controllers that act as interfaces (3rd layer of clean architecture)
  • We have providers which can be injected to provide functionality (4th layer of clean architecture: DB, Devices, etc.)
  • We can also create services and repositories to define our use case (2nd Layer)
  • We can define our entities using DB providers (1st Layer)

Conclusion:

Nest.JS is a powerful Node.JS framework and the most well-known typescript available today. Now that you’ve got the lowdown on this framework, you must be wondering if we can use it to build a project structure with a clean architecture. Well, the answer is -Yes! Absolutely. How? I’ll explain in the next series of this article. 

Till then, Stay tuned!

About the Author:

Junaid Bhat is currently working as a Tech Lead in Mantra Labs. He is a tech enthusiast striving to become a better engineer every day by following industry standards and aligned towards a more structured approach to problem-solving. 


Read our latest blog: Golang-Beego Framework and its Applications

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