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Guest Column: The future of digital advtg – Interaction design

14-March-2013
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Guest Column: The future of digital advtg – Interaction design

As a digital advertising professional, I’m often asked, what according to me is the most important aspect of any piece of advertising? My reply instantly is ‘design’.  And by design, I don’t just mean the beautiful layouts we create for brands. Sure that’s essential. But what’s more important is the manner in which this design changes the way we engage with our consumers, especially in an interactive medium such as digital. In the next few hundred words, I’d like to speak about an aspect of design that I think will define the next few years of digital advertising: ‘Interaction design’.

Interaction design, simply put, is the art of facilitating or instigating interactions between people by creating intuitive and efficient smart products. These products can be digital or analog, physical or abstract or some combination of these. Before you jump to conclusions, let me tell you, it’s not all about interaction with a product (that's industrial design) or interaction with a computer (that's human computer interaction). It's about making connections between people. And that’s what separates good interaction design from bad.

But let’s not immerse ourselves in jargon and theory. After all, it is all about simplicity and conveying meaning, right?

Here are the five basic principles of great interaction design.

1. Simplicity

The key is to keep things really simple for the end user. You might spend a huge amount of time and money to create something which is really complex on the inside. However, to an end user, the product experience should feel like he's doing something that comes absolutely naturally to him. If the user feels he is doing something complicated, then the whole purpose of interaction design gets defeated.

Here’s what I’m talking about:

2. Technology

Interaction design makes technology, particularly digital technology, useful, usable, and pleasurable to use. This is why the rise of software and the internet has also led to the rise of the field of interaction design. Interaction design takes the raw stuff produced by engineers and programmers and moulds it into products that people enjoy using.

So while it’s great to innovate, technology should always act as an enabler, not a barrier.

This how you do it:

3. Going physical

Interaction design works at its best when combined with the physical world. Going tactile is the best way to simplify an experience, make it real and convert it into a behaviour that can be easily adopted and emulated.

See for yourself:

4. Creating new behaviours

Interaction design is also concerned with how products behave and provide feedback, based on what the people engaged with them are doing. For example, we all now know what happens when we pinch a smartphone screen. It is a behavior that is so intuitive and efficient; it has been universally adopted and is now a standard interaction in all smartphones.

In the chase to simplify things, it is also very important to create new behaviours and patterns which people readily adapt to. However, it is important not to create knee-jerk functionalities.

5. Delight and engage

Engagement measures the extent to which a consumer has a meaningful experience with a particular product. An engaging experience is not only more enjoyable, but also easier and more productive. As with many things, engagement is subjective; what appeals to teenagers is not necessarily what their grandparents would also find engaging.

The user should feel like they are in control of the experience at all times, they must constantly feel like they’re achieving something and also be able see the results through positive feedback. This, according to me, is the most important part of the piece.

Hope in the coming years we’ll see great interaction designs scripting the next phase of digital advertising in India. In the end, I’ll leave you with something we created for Mohan Music Palace almost a year back.

The author is Creative Director, Webchutney

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