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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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Apple WWDC 2021, Facebook f8, Microsoft Build: What’s in it for Developers and Consumers this year

14 minutes read

Apple WWDC 2021 is the second all-virtual conference hosted by the company this year, one that will see both hardware announcements and software updates. WWDC 2021, which begins June 7 with the traditional Apple keynote will run the whole week long and will contain pavilions, daily recaps available to revisit, and more in this free-for-all developers virtual meet. 

WWDC 2021 is bringing big changes to iOS 15 and iPad OS 15, along with a new more powerful M2 chip and a redesigned MacBook Pro that gets rid of its maligned features like the Touch Bar, to re-introduce the HDMI port and MagSafe. 

Apple CEO Tim Cook began the keynote address welcoming “familiar” faces back again in the audience, virtual avatars aka Memoji instead of real people, given the ongoing pandemic. 

ALSO READ: Google I/O 2021: What’s in it for Developers and Consumers this Year

Here’s everything we noticed at the Apple WWDC 2021 keynote: 

iOS 15 

The new iOS update will come with a series of improvements including a better Facetime experience. FaceTime will now include features like Spatial Audio making calls more comfortable and natural, like you and the person on the other end are in the same room. The mic gets a Voice Isolation update, which, through the use of Machine Learning will block ambient noise and prioritize your voice. Another noticeable update is Wide Spectrum, to capture your voice and everything around you.  

The software update also introduces Portrait mode to blur backgrounds, and a grid view to enable multi-conversations with a highlighted tile to know who the speaker is. Users can also schedule individual FaceTime calls with Facetime links, similar to Zoom. Additionally, users can share their screen, music, TV show, or movie through a new feature called ShareTime, to enable a Watch Party of their own. FaceTime will, with this update, be supported on Android and Windows through a web browser.

iMessage, the messaging platform, available only on Apple devices, will now come with features that group similar images into galleries. A brand-new feature called “shared with you” will save links that people sent you and collects them in one place. It works across Safari, Apple Music, Apple TV, and Apple Podcasts.

ALSO READ: Here’s what a tech-enabled world will look like for future pandemic phases

Notifications will now have an updated design on the lock screen, featuring a clearer look. Titled the Focus feature, users can choose to go on Do Not Disturb mode or choose Work, Life hours to be able to receive notifications depending on their preferences, much like the OnePlus Zen Mode and Work-Life Balance feature that came with the OnePlus 7 series in 2019. 

Live Text, a new camera feature, will automatically identify and scan text or visuals in photographs. Another feature called Memories will use Machine Learning and AI to combine photos into galleries and add music from Apple Music. 

Apple Maps software is also updated with 3D data with this release. It now includes lanes, clearer city details, AR-led detailed directions, and more. The Weather app gets an interactive update where data and layout will change according to weather conditions. 

A new feature is also coming to AirPods called “conversation boost” which will help people better understand who they are talking to in real-time. Siri will be able to announce messages and read out your shopping list as well. Apple Wallet adds a new functionality which now includes corporate badges.

Quicknote is a fast and easy way to get to a note saved for later, while also allowing a user to jot notes using the Apple Pencil. Consumers can now add tags to organize their notes better and even mention others in shared notes.  

With iPadOS 15, Apple is adding features for multi-tasking, bringing widgets and app library to the iPad as well. Apple has also announced an iCloud+ subscription service with a focus on privacy. 

Privacy and Security: 

New privacy features, and a subscription-based iCloud+ was also announced at the keynote. Apple is now adding new privacy features across its devices. The Mail App, for instance, will have a feature called tracker-blockers to hide your IP address, location and other information that help building a digital personality for third-party apps. An App Tracker Report section in the Settings will allow users to see how often apps have used their info in the last seven days.

iCloud+ will also include a key feature called Private Relay, which essentially helps route web traffic through two separate servers, just like VPN.

Siri, on the other hand, has some new features including availability on third-party apps, and users can also request tasks from the Voice Assistant without an active internet connection. 

Speaking of legacy contacts, Apple has introduced a Digital Legacy Program that will help your trusted contacts to manage your account, close them et al, even when you’re no longer around. 

Digital Health: 

The latest Apple Watch software allows more interaction possibilities while also connecting health trackers that monitors everything from your gait to the sleep patterns via the Breathe app called Mindfulness and let’s you know as soon as it finds something out of the ordinary which can be addressed promptly. This is possible through Apple’s collaboration with a few electronic health record companies. If you’re away from your loved ones, the new software allows you to share health data too. 

New watch faces on Watch OS8 are available in Portrait mode and one also has the ability to write a text with their finger to send a text message. 

ALSO READ: What will ‘Behavioural Changes’ Mean for India’s Digital Health Future

Additionally, in the Workouts app, new workout types including TaiChi and Pilates have been added guided by popular names such as Jeanette Jenkins as well as a new Artist Spotlight series that offers workouts on the music of Lady Gaga, Keith Urban, and more.

macOS Monterey: 

At the WWDC 2021 keynote address last night, Apple announced a new version of macOS. Titled Monterey, after the pristine beach town in California’s central coast, the new macOS brings a number of features including multiple screen-usage while using the same mouse and keyboard across a Mac or an iPad. This feature is called Universal Control. 

iOS devices can (for the first time) beam their screen to a Mac, thanks to AirPlay. The Safari web browser has also got a redesign with new and improved features including tab grouping and tab bookmarking. 

What piqued your interest the most at this year’s Apple WWDC? Facebook f8, held earlier this month also had a few interesting announcements. Take a look. 

WIIFM at Facebook f8? 

Facebook f8, held on June 2 this year kicked off with a promise that Facebook was returning to its roots and focusing on the developer community for this year’s virtual event. 

“This year we are refocusing F8 on developers,” Mark Zuckerberg said. “Some of the most important services in the world started when someone looked at an existing issue, and just found a better way to build. And I’m optimistic that some of the next generation of services are going to start right here with you.”  

On the business messaging front, Facebook announced that its Messenger API for Instagram is available to all developers. The social media giant is also testing a way for people to opt into messaging with businesses through a new feature called Login Connect with Messenger. 

Through WhatsApp Business API, it’s now easier for businesses to get started with using the tool effectively for their businesses. Among its key updates, Facebook said it has reduced the entire API onboarding process from weeks to five minutes. The company also announced new WhatsApp messaging features with an aim to give people a quicker way to make a selection when interacting with a business’s chatbot on WhatsApp. 

Augmented Reality, AI and Machine Learning: 

Facebook’s development of its futuristic augmented reality glasses is still ongoing, but the company has exhibited broad ambitions in terms of its AR experiences built on its SparkAR software. In the near future, Facebook has said that it wants to make it easier for developers to build augmented reality effects for group calls via its new Multipeer API.  

The SparkAR platform now has 600,000 creators in 190 countries, with 2 million AR filters and effects created to date, according to Facebook. 

PyTorch, the deep learning framework co-developed by Facebook in 2016, is now becoming the default framework for building all its AI and machine learning models in the foreseeable future. 

“PyTorch not only makes our research and engineering work more effective, collaborative, and efficient, it also allows us to share our work as open-source PyTorch libraries and learn from the advances made by the thousands of PyTorch developers all over the world,” Facebook said in a blog post. 

Missed Microsoft Build? Here are key highlights tailor-made for you: 

Microsoft Build, also a developer conference, was also held virtually this year from May 25 to 27. 

Following his keynote address, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella wrote on a LinkedIn post, “As computing becomes embedded in every aspect of our lives, there will be no longer such thing as the tech sector. The world will be transformed through tech intensity at scale. Every organization will need to not only adopt the latest technology, but more importantly, build their own unique digital technology, or be left behind.”

“We are building the platform for platform creators. It’s not about setting new rules or constraints that dictate how or what you should build. It’s not even about celebrating our own innovation. It’s about enabling your innovation and creating new opportunities for you,” he continued. 

From Microsoft Teams that allows users to complete projects from any location and at any time without needing to switch across different apps and data, to Windows Updates providing GUI support on Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL), it will also allow seamless integrations with other workflows with Linux, GUI apps, and GPU-accelerated ML training.

In terms of privacy and security, Microsoft announced the integration of its Azure Security Center with GitHub. This integration will further enhance collaboration between the development and security teams. Interestingly, this collaborative effort will feature an update to enable security teams to be aware of the holistic development life-cycle instead of trying and fixing bugs only once the software is released. This measure will further allow the DevSecOps teams to run vulnerability scans, resolve findings, and visualize the security of workflows within their CI/CD pipeline.

The company also announced key updates to its Azure AI services, including Azure Bot Services, Azure Video Analyzer, and more. That’s not all, Microsoft also announced ML capabilities updates to accelerate its AI model deployment, namely Azure Machine Learning Managed Endpoints and Power Fx.

Automatic Aggregations was yet another feature that debuted at MS Build this year. Power BI dataflows that suitably handle streaming data sources, starting with Azure Event Hubs and Azure IoT Hubs, promises to make streaming data and real-time analytics accessible. 

Microsoft also introduced a low-code programming tool that allows users to write code without any prior coding knowledge. Called Power App Ideas, is the first-of-its-kind collaborative effort between Microsoft and artificial intelligence (AI) research company OpenAI. The app uses OpenAI’s Generative Pre-Trained Transformer-3 (GPT-3) AI model, among one of the highly advanced natural language AI models in the world today. 

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