Interactive Design

Books sit on shelves after college study or a pleasant read and look good for friends and family when visiting.  Sometimes it’s a good idea to pull a hardcover off the shelf and open it up to rediscover the knowledge that dwells within it.

One of those books that recently got pulled off the shelf is Interactive Design-Beyond Human-Computer Interaction.

Design-Beyond Human-Computer Interaction is a college text that covers a wide range of topics that focus on interactive computer design.

The first couple of chapters describe and illustrate subjects such as Understanding Interaction, Understanding Users, Designing and Collaboration for Communication and Interfaces and Interactions between the user and the product.

The last half of the book dives into the deep well of data gathering, prototyping, requirements, and usability testing.

The beginning chapters on understanding users, interfaces, and interactions can be informative and useful when deciding what is best for an organization.

The book features a simple device like a television remote control and shows how it can be made complicated or straightforward.

A house thermostat can be looked at in the same way, interactively challenging or easy to use. The ergonomic, engineering and interactive factors involved can create a simple or complicated design.

Interactive design by the book’s definition is “designing products to support the way people communicate and in their every day and working lives.”

“Support” is a keyword in that definition; it doesn’t mention the word “hinder” anywhere in that phrase.

The book explains that designers need to understand how people act and react to various events surrounding them and how they communicate with each other. A big part of that is understanding users.  

Cognition is on two levels: experiential and reflective. Experiential involves reacting and acting to a stimulus, such as driving a car, having a conversation.  

Reflective thinking includes thinking, comparing, and decision-making. Both kinds of thinking use different types of technology.  

The key is to make the technology accessible with interaction. It will reduce a user’s memory load so they can concentrate on other business interests.

Interaction is where the Cloud can make a difference.

The Control Cloud interface is easily accessible from anywhere and requires minimum cognitive effort.

Once given access, it takes a point and click to get to your office interface from anywhere. Reducing an employee’s memory load when interacting with computers and their functions frees up more effort to finish business tasks.   

Also, collaboration is moved to the forefront since users can communicate from anywhere.

Here are questions to be raised when choosing an IT solution:

  1. Who are the users?
  2. What do we mean by needs?
  3. What are the needs?
  4. How do we maximize usability and thereby increase effort?

The end goal shouldn’t be how many hours someone works, but what happens when they work?  

It doesn’t matter what workflow model a company uses, whether it be Waterfall, Agile, Spiral, Star, or open floor design rather than a cube farm, it’s measured results that rule the day.  

The fuel behind successful metrics is interaction, collaboration, communication, and (of course) an ego check at the door.

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Rick Bretz

Rick Bretz

Chief content and technical writer

Rick Bretz  possesses comprehensive experience in several subjects including video editing and production, radio/TV and journalism writing, videography, radio broadcasting, IT Management, Information Security and Assurance.  He also works as a Senior Cyber Security Engineer for Vulnerability Management, Service/Infrastructure Operations and Platforms Support for the government. Mr. Bretz also is a documentation and technical writer for the Veteran Administration’s Continuous Readiness in Information Security Program.  He also served in the US Army beginning in 1979, graduating from leadership schools and from Journalism, Broadcasting, Newspaper Editing and Public Affairs Supervisor courses.  He retired from the Army with many writing and broadcasting awards to accept video production and management positions.  He holds a BS degree in Information Technology with a Specialization in Security Assurance from Capella University and has a Security + Certification from CompTIA.  Mr. Bretz also writes his own blog on topics that interest him that can be reached at  pastparallelpaths.com.