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What is Interactive Design? - Examples & Definition

Instructor: David Gloag
Design is an important process in our world. Because of this, it receives a lot of focus. In this lesson, we'll take a look at design and how an interactive approach affects it.

The Truth About the Magic

Have you ever wondered how the items we use came to be? You know, how the cell phone in your hand was created? How the shoes you are wearing were made? Or how the vehicle you are driving got its start? We're not naïve enough to think it was magic. But it does make you wonder. Some of the items we use are incredibly complex, like the cell phone and vehicle. The truth is that they are an all-encompassing process behind the scenes. A process that takes every aspect of the item into account and comes up with a satisfying mixture. That process is called design.

What is Design?

Design is the process of developing and assembling the descriptions, plans, images, and procedures that allow you to create what is in your mind. There are many examples in the world. Composers design musical treatments for movies or auditory enjoyment; toy designers enchant our children with objects that spur their imaginations; and bakers design the multitude of mouth-watering muffins and pastries we consume. Everything we use or experience has an associated design. Some are simple, like the stack of Post-It notes on our desks. Others are extremely complex, like NASA's Curiosity Mars Rover. Design affects every aspect of the subject from its color to its surface texture. The goal of design is to find the perfect balance between our enjoyment of the subject and its utility.

What is an Interactive Approach?

An interactive approach is one that facilitates two-way or bi-directional contact between the source of the interaction and the target. It is cyclic, meaning that there is a back and forth dynamic between the parties involved. In other words, one response generates another, and another, and so on. Think about a video game. The game presents you with a scenario and a series of events that require your response or responses. These responses, in turn, cause the game to change. This iterative back and forth between you and the game is the essence of interactive.

What is Interactive Design?

The phrase interactive design can be interpreted in two ways. First, the design of the item was performed in an interactive fashion. This means that an initial design was created, and then evaluated. The evaluation results in the discovery of issues. These issues are analyzed, and a set of changes are made. This new design is evaluated, and so on. Each step moves you closer to a final result in an iterative fashion. Second, the design of the item is meant to facilitate interactive use of the item. The video game mentioned above is an example of an item designed for interactive use. The game presents a changing scenario to which you react. This, in turn, creates further changes in the game.

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