User Interface Design Or User Interaction Design?

User Interface Design Or User Interaction Design?
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In this guest post, GPJ Australia creative director James David (pictured below) explores the evolution of user interface design and how it will change the emergence of new technologies.

James David

As the creative director for brand experience agency George P. Johnson, a designer who started in print design and transitioned into digital design many moons ago, one thing that I always get asked is how user interface design will change with the emergence of new technologies. How will users interact with new technology and what will that design aesthetic look like, especially since digital has now infiltrated almost all aspects of our daily lives?

In my time I have seen a cyclical evolution in design – starting with minimalistic, purely because of limited technologies and capabilities – to very detailed and complex designs that allowed us to flex our creative muscles, sometimes to the detriment of the user and then back to a minimalistic approach. Our learning was that good design should focus on human-cantered principles.

Why am I giving you a design history lesson? Because user interface design is the aesthetic output of design thinking, understanding the customer experience and their journey. Steve Jobs was famously quoted saying that design isn’t just how it looks, but how it works, and as a brand experience creative for over 15 years, whether its print, digital or live, what the user intends to do and how their journey should work will impact my design, my creative solution. This brings me to emerging trends and technology.

Technology is rapidly re-shaping the way we interact with products and each other. It’s funny, but having more digital is allowing us to be more human – more natural with our interactions. It allows us to have more time by removing barriers we once deemed normal and is simplifying our lives. Buying products online – an interaction evolution – is quite common practice, it’s quicker than heading out to a brick and mortar store, but the practice is still filled with time grabbing barriers. New technologies are emerging which are removing these barriers and it’s giving back our time, and in doing so, removing the need for digital interfaces to order such products. Therefore our interactions with digital interfaces will decrease more and more. It is our actions between these interactions that will represent our next design challenge.

What’s the best way to purchase a product or do my groceries? Should I pull my wallet out and buy online and waste valuable time, or do I press a button – Amazon Tabs – that is connected to my favourite online store and have my desired item ordered within a one second interaction? Should I just call out to my connected home and say “order me some toothpaste”? How long’s that, five seconds? The evolution of the user interface design has now transformed into designing pleasant actions leading up to a non-interface interaction. Designing sequences that allow for a more simple interaction to achieve my goal.

As a creative of brand experiences, online or live, the term interface is becoming less and less important. Understanding the complete user journey and designing the actions that allow them to reach their goal is the new UI design.

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