Published On: Thu, Oct 17th, 2019

Interaction design and UX

Outsourcing services

Just as important as the functionality of a product is the look and feel of it. You want the user’s experience — from interacting with different elements of your website to simply scrolling through your app — to be a positive one. 

When building your next website or app, do you need an IxD designer? A UX designer? Both? Neither? The look and feel of your product are just as important as its functionality. Different specialists are responsible for design, from how users interact with different elements to the product’s visual appeal. If you’re outsourcing services, finding the right type of designer is essential for delivering a quality product to your user.

photo/ Gerd Altmann via pixabay

Here’s a closer look at what each role does, as well as the overlapping responsibilities and key differences between them.

What is interaction design?

Broadly speaking, interaction design concerns the way in which users use different features of a website, app, or other device or product. An interaction designer might, for instance, create a clickable graphic or an interesting sound effect. Even a menu falls under the purview of an interaction designer — after all, this is a feature with which a user interacts. 

Some other features interaction designers work on and create include:

  • Buttons and their functions
  • Animations
  • Page transitions
  • Motion graphics
  • Clickable features
  • Actions such as hovering a cursor over a graphic or tapping a device
  • Closing browsers or menu options

If you want to outsource development, you should look for the following skills in an IxD designer:

  • Website and graphic design, including motion graphics and animation
  • Knowledge of frameworks and grid layouts
  • Knowledge of information design and architecture
  • Soft skills, such as critical thinking, communication, problem-solving, and empathy

What is UX design?

User experience (UX) design, on the other hand, deals with how people use the product. UX designers focus on the overall perception, functionality, and, yes, usability of the website or app. Conducting extensive research and testing, the UX designer will assess the overall feeling your product gives the user — how he or she perceives of it, views it, and manipulates different features within it. The chief concerns include:

  • The emotions someone will experience when using the product
  • The product’s overall functionality
  • Special features and how they appeal to the user
  • Clarity of the tools and instructions needed to use and interact with the product

If you’re outsourcing services to help you build your next product, you should look for the following skills in a UX designer:

  • Knowledge of and ability to use wireframes, storyboards, and prototypes
  • Knowledge of coding languages, such as Java, CSS, and HTML
  • Web and graphic design, including the ability to use tools such as Sketch and Photoshop
  • Research
  • Soft skills, such as critical thinking, communication, problem-solving, analytical, and empathy

What’s the difference between IxD and UX?

You may have noticed that there’s a good deal of overlap between UX and IxD designers. For example, both involve considering how the user will feel when engaging with the product. That’s because in some ways, interaction design can be thought of as one aspect of UX design. In fact, many professionals handle both responsibilities. 

So, if you’re looking at different software outsourcing models and only see a UX designer on staff, don’t be alarmed — most likely, this person will be responsible for creating the user experience including how the user interacts with your product.

However, there are some distinctions worth noting. For one, the general definitions are different. UX design generally involves how the user feels about and perceives your product, while IxD design refers to how the user and the product interact. 

Moreover, UX design involves conducting research about the user’s wants and needs. Of course, this research can and should be applied to the IxD designer’s tasks, too, but the research itself is usually performed by the UX team if the roles are separate.

Another key difference is that UX concerns the actual development of the product itself — what people want in a website or app — while IxD is performed after the product is conceptualized and needs to be “spruced up” as it were. We can think of it as a before-and-after scenario: UX is involved in creating the entire idea for the product, while IxD deals with the implementation and touchups to make it shine.

If you’re outsourcing services to help you create your next project, where should you turn? That depends on what you need on your website or app. If your product involves a lot of complex design, you’re going to need a professional dedicated to these features. You should look for many of the skills outlined above, as well as a strong portfolio of work similar to your project and testimonials from previous clients.

Don’t get too wrapped up in the terminology, though. It’s quite possible the software outsourcing companies you research put all the design tasks under the purview of one person or team, rather than separating them into different roles. Instead, pay attention to what they know, how they approach your project, and the past work they can show you — these are the real indicators of whether your relationship will be successful.

Author: Santiago Alonso

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