Interactions Design – an Introduction

What is Interaction Design?

Interaction Design (IxD) defines the structure, behavior of interactive systems. Interaction designers strive to create meaningful relationships between people and the products and services that they use, from computers to mobile devices to appliances and beyond. Our practices are evolving with the world.

according to UXbooth

Methodologies

Interaction design come from types of web and mobile applications and sites, there are certain methodologies that all designers rely on. Common methodologies are goal-driven design, usability, the five dimensions, cognitive psychology, and human interface guidelines.

Goal-Driven Design

Was inisiated by Alan Cooper, He defines goal-driven design as design that holds problem solving as a highest priority.

The process involved in goal-driven design, according to Alan, contains five shifts in the way we think as interaction designers.

  1. Design first, program second. In other words, goal-driven design begins with considerations for how users interact (and how things look!), rather than beginning with technical considerations.
  2. Separate responsibility for design from responsibility for programming. This refers to the necessity of having an interaction designer who can champion the end-user, without worrying about the technical constraints.
  3. Hold designers responsible for product quality and user satisfaction. Though stakeholders or clients will have their own objectives, the interaction designer has a responsibility to the person on the other side of the screen.
  4. This particular idea has developed into something that is now more commonly associated with user research: personas. Yet Alan reminds us to connect personas back to the product, and constantly ask: where will this person use this? Who are they? What do they want to accomplish?
  5. Work in teams of two. Lastly, interaction designers should never work in a silo. Collaboration with others, which Alan Cooper calls a “design communicator,” is key. Though the design communicator


5 Major Point Of Interaction Design

Interaction design focuses on creating engaging interfaces with well thought out users behaviors. By able to understanding how users and technology relationship with each other is fundamental to this field. A Designer can anticipate how someone might interact with the product, fix problems early, as well as invent a new ways of doing things.

With the increasing penetration of the Internet, the advent of home and leisure computing, and eventually the emergence of digital interactive consumer products, the two cultures of design and engineering gravitated towards a common interest in discretionary use and user experience. Towards the turn of the century, the notion of interaction design started to gain in popularity as a way to acknowledge a more designerly approach to the topic – going beyond pure utility and efficiency to consider also aesthetic qualities of use, for example.

Since then, a plethora of professional practices, academic study programs, literature, networks and venues have formed under the umbrella of interaction design. It goes without saying that there are many different understandings of exactly what interaction design is. I don’t see any real point in surveying all these definitions but instead, I would like to offer a very simple formulation of interaction design, devised to capture the heritage of the term as outlined above and at the same time draw some demarcation lines to indicate potential edges of the field.

It goes like this:


“Interaction design is about shaping digital things for people’s use”

The notion of shaping is used consciously to suggest a designerly activity

This is indeed a simple formulation. However, as we shall see in the following where I discuss one of its elements at a time, it is not entirely without power of discrimination.

1. Design involves changing situations by shaping and de- ploying artifacts

In other words, design is about transformation and the means available for the de- signer to initiate change in a particular situation is ultimately the designed artifact.

For interaction design, this connects to the notion of what the interaction designer designs. I am suggesting the delimitation that interaction designers design digital things – more on this below. What that means for now, how- ever, is that changing a situation by devising and implementing, say, a new political initiative could certainly be viewed as a design act but not an act of interaction design.

2. Design is about exploring possible futures

This seems almost too obvious to point out, but from an academic point of view it might be worth mentioning since it entails a fundamental difference in orientation; analytical and critical studies focus on that which exists, whereas design concerns itself with that which could be. This has epistemological consequences for, e.g., how research is conducted

Exploring possible futures in interaction design often involves inviting the future users in various forms of participation.

Claiming that design entails exploring possible futures also means that activities like user studies and summative evaluations in themselves do not constitute interaction design. However, they are often used within interaction design processes, and arguably it makes sense to consider the larger process including fieldwork, innovation and evaluation as a design process in its entirety – as the

3. Design entails framing the “problem” in parallel with cre- ating possible “solutions”

From the notions of changing situations and exploring possible futures follow the conclusion that when we have designed something, the situation in which it is used is no longer the same. This in turn means that analyzing the existing in order to define a “problem” – that subsequent design should solve – is essentially of lim- ited merit. Exploring possible futures implies not only different “design solutions” but also different “problems.”

A consequence of this characteristic is that traditional systems development and engineering processes, where the aim is to finish descriptive analysis for a requirement specification before creative design begins, are not considered de- signerly processes. This is quite intentional.

4. Design involves thinking through sketching and another tangible representations

When sketching snapshots or aspects of possible futures (such as a not-yet-exist- ing product), the designer is not merely copying images from her inner eye. The drawings are micro-experiments that respond with insights into strengths, weak- nesses and possible changes in a tight loop of thinking that involves the hand, the senses and the mind.

One of them is that when designing innovative interaction techniques, it may be necessary to sketch in software and hardware rather than staying with lo-fi sketching media.

If a particular external representation serves to engage the designer in a conversation about the details and implications of a not-yet-finalized idea, and if it is quick, tentative and truly disposable, then it is a sketch. It could be anything from a napkin drawing to a piece of programming code, perhaps even written in the language that is normally used to build products for delivery – what matters is the purpose and intention.

5. Design addresses instrumental, technical, aesthetical and ethical aspects throughout

Each of the possible futures being explored in a design process introduces con- siderations and tradeoffs in all these dimensions, and there is no obvious way in which they can be sequenced. This holds equally for interaction design: Technical decisions influence the aesthetic qualities of the resulting interaction, instrumen- tal choices on features to offer have ethical repercussions, and so on.

Historically, there has been a tendency in human-computer interaction, usability engineering, and human factors to focus on instrumental and technical aspects. Interaction design as a designerly activity would insist that the aesthetical and ethical qualities can never be ignored or factored out.

For an interaction designer, users are whole people with complex sensibilities and design processes need to be conducted accordingly.

STEP FIVE: Strategy Proposition

Q. Are we continuously reviewing our digital channel proposition and how we communicate it?

Despite all the talk of tactics online

What really helps companies succeed online is the strength of their brand and what it can offer customers. Since digital channels are still quite new and many consumers are still switching to use them there are two issues to consider when developing your proposition.

First you can think about how you communicate the core features of your brand and in particular what makes you different? This is where you aim to position your brand and its products and services relative to competitors.

Second, you should take a channel-based view of your proposition and communicate what your channel offers compared to your own offerings in this channel and others. Through doing this you can encourage visitors to start and continue using your website, social network presence, email communications, mobile site or app.

Strategy Recommendation 27 Ensure your online presences communicate both core
brand essence and product features but also channel value
Users of your digital platforms will compare these platforms to your other channels &
to competitors, so you have to communicate these through the interface design and
messaging.

Communicating the core features of your brand

Q. Have we reviewed how effectively we communicate the core features of our brand online?

Once we have understood our audiences and what we will offer them, key messages should be defined which can be communicated to customers on the site itself and in offline communications.

Strategy Recommendation 28 Ensure the key brand offer is clearly defined
Make the basics clear: Who you are? What you offer? Where you offer it? What makes you different?

Remember that for your website or social sites, the majority of visitors won’t know you so well. Think about what we call the “Four Familiarities” for a new site visitor.

They will differ in :

  • Familiarity of the customer with the different digital platforms
  • Familiarity of the customer with a brand
  • Familiarity with your products and services
  • Familiarity of a customer with your online channels

So, the main brand messages need to explain what you offer to these different groups.

Given that we have this range of familiarity, it’s useful to define the core of what you offer, particularly for new customers. Check it’s clear your visitors can answer these questions:

  1. Who you are? Clear brand names and idents?
  2. What you offer? Clear products and services?
  3. Who your offer appeals to? Less important, but this can help define your positioning.
  4. Where you offer it? Particularly important if you serve local markets!
  5. What makes you different? Often missed and the most important! What truly differentiates you?

It’s also important that these type of messages detailing the offer and linking to supporting information are visible over the entire site since not everyone arrives on the home page and reminders work.

Best Practice Tip 14 Ensure key brand messages are visible across the site
Use containers above or below the menu or in the sidebars to communicate your key messages aimed at increasing conversion.
Strait to the points

Differentiate!

Q. Have we developed a sufficiently distinct positioning?

Strategy Recommendation 29 Identify key differentiators
Don’t fall into the trap of only communicating low relevance or low differentiating value – make sure you identify the key drives of relevance and differentiation that are right for your customer segment(s).

Better Branding. Aufreiter, Elzinga, and. Gordon

Adding value to your brand online

Q. Have we reviewed our online value proposition for different online platforms?

Really, creating and adding more value to your brand is one of the most powerful aspects of digital channels, since it will engage your audience and encourage them to share the proposition, so it’s essential to think this through clearly.

What is it? Online value proposition
Each digital channel should have its own OVP defined and there is a collective OVP.

You can communicate the OVP indirectly through the menu options, design style and tone of voice of your digital platforms whether that’s a website, blog, mobile app or email campaign. But’s it’s also useful to formalize and develop specific messaging to explain your proposition, so we will look at examples of these later in the section.

Strategy Recommendation 30 Define the overall OVP for your digital channels and
individual channels and communicate them effectively
If you don’t define your OVP, it’s likely you’re not really taking advantage of the unique benefits of digital channels to provide better experiences for customers. You also won’t be able to communicate the OVP well if it’s ill-defined. It’s important this communication happens both online and in other channels.
Checklist – different OVPs
  • Website OVP
  • Social media platform OVP
  • Email marketing content OVP
  • Service OVP
  • Mobile platform, app OVPs

STEP FOUR: Strategy Targeting

Q. Customer segmentation and targeting approach defined?

Digital channels offer exciting potential to target customers more closely.

For long-time marketers have talked about the nirvana of one-to-one marketing enabled by technology.

While there are opportunities for smart targeting with technology, the reality is that many communications aren’t targeted at any level! Yet Relevance, Relevance, Relevance should be the mantra that underpins your online marketing. Without delivering relevant communications you’re dead in the water.

In this step we recommend you target these groups of customers & grow your audience effectively.

  • Overall targeting approaches – strategic segmentation
  • Owned media targeting approaches – main audiences and web design personas
  • Earned media targeting options
  • Paid media options for targeting through different digital media channels

You can see that these targeting approaches are closely related to the next 3 steps: the propositions you offer to these segments, how you grow your reach and how you engage existing customers.

At a practical level, you can target specific audiences either through your website and other owned media like your social presence, bought or earned media, so we will look at the targeting options in each of these areas.

A. Set strategic segmentation

Q. Strategic market segments defined?

Before we dive into the tactical segmentation of how to target existing audiences better, we should look at the bigger picture of the main markets you’re targeting. This is your strategic segmentation.

What is it? Strategic segmentation
A definition of the main markets and audiences you are targeting.
Define core audiences to target

Q. Core audience demographics defined.

You can’t be all things to all people, you need to focus to offer a targeted proposition, so you should specify who are your core audiences. These will be likely 2-6 main audiences. Online media like ad networks give opportunities to buy media by demographic criteria, so clearly define different groups by age, gender and social groupings.

These audiences will form the web design personas we describe in the next section.

Checklist – audiences by priority

List audience by priority of volume or by value to the organisation.

  1. ______________________________
  2. ______________________________
  3. ______________________________
  4. ______________________________
  5. ______________________________
Define international audiences to target

Q. International marketing options defined

Receive visits from many different countries. But certain markets will be much more important, so you have to identify these and group them in a meaningful way such that you can tackle them. Of course, your primary market may be in your local country simply because you can only deliver products or services locally, in which case you will need to exclude all other countries in analytics unless people buy from abroad. 

Best Practice Tip 10 Group international target markets in a meaningful way To help manage markets you should group them into three or four tiers according to the amount of business they generate or based on future potential, e.g. emerging markets.

Define opportunities to reach new markets and audiences

Q. Options to reach new markets and audiences reviewed?

Through reviewing strategic segmentation, you can think through the opportunities available to sell into new markets through online channels.

These could involve taking advantage of the low cost of advertising internationally without the necessity for a supporting sales infrastructure in the customer’s country. For example, the Internet has helped low-cost airlines such as easyJet and Ryanair to enter new markets served by their routes cost- effectively.

This is a relatively conservative use of the Internet but is a great opportunity for SMEs to increase exports at a low cost, though it does require overcoming the barriers to exporting.

Strategy Recommendation 24 Review opportunities of digital media to target new audi- ences and new markets Don’t limit your online ambitions to sell into existing markets. Instead, review opportunities to reach new audiences – either completely different to those that exist already or through micro-targeting.

There may also be opportunity to sell to new market segments or different types of customers. For example, B2B company RS Components, a supplier of a range of MRO (maintenance, repair and operations) items, found when it first launched its site that 10% of the web-based sales were to individual consumers rather than traditional business customers. It also uses the website to offer additional facilities for customers placing large orders online.

The UK retailer Argos found the opposite was true with 10% of website sales being from businesses when their traditional market was consumer-based. EasyJet also has a section of its website to serve business customers.

The Internet may offer further opportunities for selling to market sub-segments that have not been previously targeted. For example, a product sold to large businesses may also appeal to SMEs that they have previously been unable to serve because of the cost of sales via a specialist sales force.

Alternatively, a product targeted at young people could also appeal to some members of an older audience and vice versa. Many companies have found that the audience and customers of their website are quite different from their traditional audience.

Common online targeting priorities

Let’s look at some examples of how we can select segments for targeting online that
are most attractive in terms of growth and profitability. These may be similar or different compared with groups targeted offline. Some examples of B2C and B2B customer segments that you should think about reaching or influencing through your site and ecosystem include:

  • The most profitable customers. Using the Internet to provide tailored offers to the top 20% of customers by profit may result in more repeat business and cross-sales;
  • Customers that are difficult to reach using other media. An insurance company looking to target younger drivers could use the web as a vehicle for this;
  • Customers that are brand-loyal. Services to appeal to brand loyalists and influencers can be provided to support them in their role as advocates of a brand, as suggested by Aaker and Joachimsthaler (2000);
  • Customers that are not brand-loyal. Conversely, incentives, promotion and a good level of service quality could be provided by the website to try and retain such customers.
  • Larger companies (B2B). Think about how you can reach these audiences through digital media and then how you appeal to them on your site through specific site sections or messages on a web page;
  • Smaller companies (B2B). Large companies are traditionally serviced through sales representatives and account managers, but smaller companies may not warrant the expense of account managers. The Internet, especially through the software-as-a-service (SaaS) model can be used to reach and serve smaller companies more cost-effectively;
  • Specific members of the buying unit (B2B). Again, the site can provide detailed information for different interests which supports the buying decision, for example technical documentation for users of products, information on savings from e-procurement for IS or purchasing managers, and information to establish the credibility of the company for decision makers;

As we will see at the end of this step, the digital media channels like affiliate, search and social media also give opportunities to reach to smaller segment sizes, this is micro- targeting.

Tactical segmentation methods review

Q. Does your Tactical segmentation reviewed?

The next two sections also review tactical segmentation options. Before we look at these, one other segmentation method to consider is psychographic segmentation. In plain language this is how audiences think about products and brands and how they behave through the buying process. It involves understanding their buying criteria and behaviour.

For example, laser eye treatment company Ultralase discovered that leads on their website were generated through two distinct behaviours. First some leads were generated rapidly within a day of the first visit, but another group of visitors took much longer, using a more considered approach involving many visits over a longer time period.

Don’t forget that at a practical level, your options to target your email list will be based on your customer knowledge. Since we are looking to learn more through time, we need a structured approach to customer data capture. This can be achieved through a common customer profile.

What is it? Common customer profile
A definition of all the database fields that are relevant to the marketer in order to understand and target the customer with a relevant offering. It is best if different levels,1-3 of profile can be defined to encourage more customers to sign-up.

Once defined, the common customer profile can then be used as a means of
structuring e-permission marketing and refining understanding about the customer. A plan with targets for each level can be created about how to learn more about the customer.

Best Practice Tip 11 Identify key profile fields
Identify the profile fields you really need to be able to understand your audience and target them with future messages. These are level 1 or 2 of the common customer profile.

A structured approach to customer data capture is needed otherwise some data will be missed, as is the case with the utility company that collected 80,000 e-mail addresses, but forgot to ask for the postcode for geo-targeting!

The customer profile can have different levels to set targets for data quality:

  • Level 1 is contact details and key profile fields only
  • Level 2 includes preferences
  • Level 3 includes full purchase and response behaviour

B. Owned media targeting options

Q. Owned media targeting options reviewed?

The company website is still the main owned media option for most companies to interact with prospects and customers. It’s important to think of methods of personalisation to use. But for some, such as FMCG brands social platforms are becoming more important – often their Facebook pages are larger than their website by audience and interactions. For others, mobile platforms like the mobile website and mobile apps are becoming ever more important. We’ll look at each of these in this section.

Define company website targeting approach

Q. Social media platform targeting approach defined?

You can apply the approach of personas to your website social presence. You will likely find that the demographics and preferences of users of your social presences are quite different from those of your main website. There will also be differences between different social sites like Facebook, Twitter and of course LinkedIn for business users.

Best Practice Tip 12 Audit users of your social presence to create a social profile for each site
Review a sample of profiles and comments on your social media presence to understand the types of audiences and their preferences.
Targeting using email marketing

Q. Options for targeting through email house-list reviewed?

Q. Options for targeting through email house-list reviewed?

Email is most effective for marketing when using your in-house list. Your capability here for targeting will be part of your wider E-CRM strategy. But at a practical level it will depend on the fields you have available on the database for your audience and whether they have been populated.

In my 7 Steps Guide to Excellent Email Marketing, we run through 5 options for email targeting. Of these, we think the customer lifecycle and activity levels are particularly important levels of targeting to consider.

Checklist – 5 email targeting approaches

  1. Customer profile characteristics (demographics).
  2. Customer value (current and future).
  3. Customer lifecycle groups.
  4. Customer behaviour in response and purchase (observed and predicted).
  5. Customer multi-channel behaviour (channel preference).
  6. Customer personas including psychographics.
Best Practice Tip 13 Summarise your segmentation in a layered form
It can be useful to summarise different targeting options for colleagues through a layered segmentation as shown in this approach used by eBay UK shared at a recent email marketing conference.

C. Paid media targeting options

Q. Paid-media audience targeting approach defined?

We will look at the paid media targeting approaches in more depth in Step 6, but for com- pleteness we have a quick review of the targeting options here.

Targeting using search marketing

Q. Search marketing targeting approach reviewed?

Of course search marketing involves both paid and owned media, the owned media being the natural search engine optimisation (SEO). But both share similar targeting options.

At a strategy level, the most important thing to get right is investing time in targeting the keyphrases that will get you the best results. Methods of keyphrase research and targeting are covered in more detail in our guides on paid and natural search marketing and a later section which reminds us that the Google Display Network (GDN) can be used for targeting on third-party sites.

Targeting using display advertising

Q. Opportunities for reaching audience through display advertising reviewed?

Although search marketing is effective at reaching visitors who have a defined need they are searching, for it is less effective for generating hidden demand through targeted ads on niche sites or reaching a mass-market audience through larger sites. Many companies don’t invest in display since they can’t see beyond the low clickthrough rates.

Targeting using affiliates and partners

Q. Relevance of affiliate marketing reviewed?

Marketing via partners is another method of targeting audiences using third-party sites which can complement your other traffic-building efforts. These can give new potential sources for reaching audiences that aren’t aware of your brand or specific products and services. For example, retailer Tescos has good levels of brand awareness in many markets, but some offerings like their financial, diet or wine products may be less well known, so they use affiliate marketing to raise awareness of these services with higher levels of commission.

D. Earned media targeting options

Q. Earned-media audience targeting approach defined?

Reaching your audience through online public relations is another tactical method of targeting. Here we are looking to deliver a message to our audience though editorial produced by influencers such as bloggers, celebrities or online publications.

Strategy Recommendation 26 Ensure you invest sufficient in influencer outreach Segmenting and then forming relationships with relevant bloggers and content sites is a key part of influencer outreach, but it’s often an under-resourced part of content marketing.

VQVC test for using the right digital marketing KPIs

As a starting point for creating a dashboard for digital marketing activity based on Google Analytics or another digital analytics system, consider the VQVC measures.

By using the Volume-Quality-Value-Cost (VQVC) measures you can check you have a balanced set of measures in a dashboard. In our experience, some dashboards tend to include Volume measures only. There is a tendency to focus on Volume, but it’s Quality, Value, and Cost that really matter. You should also segment these KPIs by referral channel, for example, comparing social media to SEO to AdWords.

VQVC defines four types of measures that you should review within your analytics:

Traffic volume measures. Google Analytics is great at showing these simple measures of what we often call “traffic”. You will see these in the standard audience overview report. Key Measures include:

  • Unique visits – the number of individuals who visit the site in the specified period.
  • Visits – the total number of times the site was accessed by different individuals.
  • Pageviews – the total number of pages viewed by individuals.

Quality measures. For meaningful use of analytics to improve digital marketing it’s essential to go beyond volume measures to understand the quality of traffic on the site. The reason? It’s really challenging to deliver relevance to web users, they’re impatient if the content, design, and experience don’t match their intent as they search for a product or service, or their expectations based on visits to other sites. These traffic quality measures give an indication of how a visitor has engaged with a site, these examples of site engagement benchmarks show a typical range for these metrics.

Bounce rate The percentage of visitors who leave immediately after viewing only one page. Generally, unless they’re on the site for specific information such as a support question, a high bounce rate is a sign of poor quality traffic and/or experience.

Duration – The dwell time – measured as Average Time on Page or Average time on site.Pages per visit – I find this more useful than dwell time since it gives you an idea of how many pages your visitor views on average. It’s opportunities for a marketer to communicate their messages.

Conversion rates to lead and sale. These are the most important of the quality measures since they show what proportion of visits convert to commercial outcomes. –

While these don’t vary much from one week to the next unless there is a big change to the content or design of a site, they become really important to review for different site visitor segments. For example, if you’re paying for Google AdWords and your bounce rate for this traffic source is 90%, then you’re not getting great value from your ad investment.

If you’re involved in managing search day-to-day you will know this, but if you review search marketing with an agency or team, you do need to get into how traffic quality varies for different types of search marketing. But yet still more important are…

Value measures. Value shows the communications effectiveness and commercial contribution of our digital marketing to a business. Here we’re looking for outcomes which show intent to purchase or purchase itself. For an Ecommerce site this is straight- forward, we can look at measures like sales transactions and average order value. However, it’s less obvious for the many non-transactional sites, like many B2B sites. Here it’s necessary to setup goals for customised for the business in Google Analytics for when user actions are completed for qualified leads. Taking the example of a brochure or whitepaper download, you specify the thank you page address, give the goal a name and your goal is set up.

Many will do this, but often not set a value against it based on the conversion of brochure download to sale and their average order value. Since it’s so crucial to have Goals customized for a business I have inserted an example. Most agencies will get this right as part of their onboarding for new clients, but many businesses still don’t have this right I find.

Once you have Ecommerce or Goal tracking setup you can then use these Value measures. It’s vital to review these if you’re serious about improving marketing effectiveness by seeing which online campaigns and site pages are working best for you in terms of value rather than visits and those that aren’t.

  • Goal value per visit. If you assign a value to a goal such as a download, you can then compare how different visitor sources contribute value to the site. For example, how does social media marketing compare to Email, is LinkedIn more or less valuable than Twitter – this is very powerful for checking your marketing investments.
  • Revenue per visit. For sites with E-commerce tracking, Google will report Revenue per visit which enables you perform similar analysis to that for goal value.
  • Page value. If you review this measure for your pages you can work back to see which pages are prompting the creation of value enabling you to improve customer journeys and messaging.

Cost measures. Cost measures are historically limited in Google Analytics, although you can now import Google AdWords costs and using Google’s new Universal Analytics you can import information about product costs.

Here’s a summary of some of the key VQVC measures you should include from analytics.

Here’s a summary of VQVC to conclude this step:

Note that the VQVC checklist is mainly related to a dashboard for traffic to a site, so it can’t cover everything like satisfaction, so here’s an additional checklist to consider. You also need to check you have the right range of digital marketing KPIs.