Information Architecture and Design - Interaction Design

Interaction design is how functionality is designed to facilitate user tasks, i.e. how the user interacts with the site. It can be as simple as a search form and results display, or cover a more complex workflow such as a multi-page survey with conditional questions. It's mostly represented by a flowchart.

The purpose of interaction design is to map the flow of actions and interactions between the user and the system. The following flowchart is a simple example of a user signing up to be a member of a website. The steps are:

  1. Member enters details.

  2. Details are checked to ensure they are valid (e.g. required fields entered, email address is valid, postcode is valid, etc.).

  3. Confirmation link is sent via email to member.

  4. Member confirms by clicking on email.

  5. Account is activated.

Interaction design captures the business logic of a site and is extremely important to get right. It will impact on how the site is built and how people will interact with it; if done poorly or without enough thought, it can make the site difficult to use or fail to achieve the goals it was designed to achieve. Therefore, it's important to take great care in designing interactions for your site.

Jesse James Garrett has come up with an entire visual vocabulary for documenting interaction design: http://www.jjg.net/ia/visvocab. If you're not used to doing interaction design, it's a great way to get started.