It requires the collaboration and coordination of multiple disciplines throughout the entire development process in order to deliver a truly great product. Given how many appliances have digital features, from displays and graphical user interfaces to accessory smartphone applications, it’s not surprising to see the emergence of interaction design. This skillset is pivotal when designing at the intersection of digital and physical, yet some companies have not made the investment in interaction design. Those who have may be struggling to adapt their product development process to fully leverage this relatively new design discipline.
What is interaction design?
Interaction Design (IxD) defines the structure and 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. [Source: IxDA]
Comparatively speaking, if industrial design (ID) is traditionally focused on defining the form and features of physical products, then IxD aims to do the same for digital products. The domains of these two design disciplines overlap when developing digital-physical products and that’s where things can get tricky for some design teams. When pursuing small, evolutionary improvements to an existing appliance, the delineation of roles and responsibilities is usually clear, especially for established teams. However, when developing an entirely new product or adding IxD into the mix as a dedicated role for the first time, it may not be obvious how it fits.