Chapter 12: Interaction Design in Practice

Chapter Introduction | Web Resources | Assignment Comments | Teaching Materials


The main aims of this chapter are to:

  • Describe some of the key trends in practice related to interaction design.
  • Enable you to discuss the place of UX design in agile development projects.
  • Enable you to identify and critique interaction design patterns.
  • Explain how open source and ready-made components can support interaction design.
  • Explain how tools can support interaction design activities.


The goal of interaction design is to produce interactive products that are of benefit to their users. This means that all the principles, techniques, and approaches introduced in other chapters of this book for designing products need to be translated into practice, i.e. into real situations with real sets of users. When placed in the wider world of commerce and business, interaction designers face a range of pressures, including time and resource pressures, and they need to work with a wide range of other roles and stakeholders. Many different names may be given to a practitioner conducting interaction design activities, including interface designer, information architect, experience designer, usability engineer, and user experience designer. In this chapter we refer to user experience (UX) designer and user experience (UX) design because these are the labels found most commonly in industry to describe someone who performs the range of interaction design tasks such as interface design, user evaluations, information architecture design, visual design, persona development, and prototyping.

From previous reading of this book, you may have got the impression that designers create their designs from scratch, with little or no help from anyone except users and immediate colleagues, but this is far from the truth. Four main areas of support impact on the job of UX designers in practice. First, working with software and product development teams operating an agile model of development (introduced in Chapter 9) has led to technique and process adaptation, resulting in AgileUX approaches. Second, reusing existing designs and concepts is valuable and time-saving. Interaction design and UX design patterns provide the blueprint for successful designs, utilizing previous work and saving time by avoiding ‘reinventing the wheel’. Third, reusable components – from screen widgets and source code libraries to full systems, and from motors and sensors to complete robots – can be modified and integrated to generate prototypes or full products. Design patterns embody an interaction idea, but reusable components provide implemented chunks of code or widgets. Finally, there is a wide range of tools and development environments available to support designers in developing visual designs, wireframes, interface sketches, interactive prototypes, and more. This chapter provides an introduction to each of these four areas.