Interactive design: Will 2023 be the breakthrough for AI-based design?

Last Modified: Jan 26th, 2023 - Category: Artificial Intelligence, News, UX Theory
interactive design: 2023 AI-based design front cover

Interactive design is probably the most exciting area on UX. From purely digital experiences to physical UX, accessibility, IoT, and everything in between, we’re accustomed to an interactive world in our everyday lives, and technological advancements are aligned with users’ needs for this interactivity.

Interactive Design is (or should be) not just a UI interface that responds to user commands and interactions, but a fluid or liquid interface (whether physical or digital) that adapts to all of the user’s sensory stimuli, including all nine senses.

Interactive Design should be a fluid or liquid interface (whether physical or digital) that adapts to all of the user's sensory stimuli, including all nine senses. Click To Tweet

Nowadays, This type of design is becoming easier and more popular over time, and is the foundation of generative design in its meaning as “AI-based design”.

We live in a digital world, where the design of apps has become increasingly important in ensuring that they are responsive to human needs and considerate of human frailties. As technology continues to advance, we’re seeing a trend towards more supportive and considerate apps that are designed to enhance the lives of users. In The Humane Interface, designer Jef Raskin explained that: β€œAn interface is humane if it is responsive to human needs and considerate of human frailties”.

Explaining Interactive Design

Fo-shan: A great example of interactive design at work

One key aspect of creating considerate apps is interactive design. According to the International Journal of Human-Computer Interaction, interactive design “involves the design of interfaces that are not only responsive to user input, but also actively engage with users in a way that feels natural and intuitive” . This can be achieved through the use of AI-based design, which allows apps to adapt and respond to user behavior in real-time. From the same study: “(…)AI-based design can lead to more personalized and user-responsive interfaces, which can help to increase user engagement and satisfaction” .

Generative Design

example of generative design for a futuristic wheelchair using stable diffusion
Example of Generative Design using Stable Diffusion AI-based design

Another important aspect of creating considerate apps is generative design. According to the International Journal of Human-Computer Interaction, “generative design involves using algorithms and machine learning to generate new design solutions based on user data and feedback” . This can lead to more personalized and user-responsive interfaces, which can help to increase user engagement and satisfaction. A study by McKinsey found that “generative design can lead to more efficient and effective interfaces, by providing users with more relevant and personalized information”.

Assistive technologies are also becoming increasingly important in the design of considerate apps. According to the International Journal of Human-Computer Interaction, “assistive technologies can help to make apps more accessible to users with disabilities, by providing additional support and assistance where needed” . This can include things like conversational interfaces, voice recognition, text-to-speech, and accessibility settings: assistive technologies can help to increase the accessibility and usability of apps for people with disabilities

Liquid interfaces and Quantum UX are also emerging as important trends in the design of considerate apps. According to the International Journal of Human-Computer Interaction, “liquid interfaces involve designing interfaces that are flexible and adaptable, allowing them to change and evolve in response to user behavior” . This can include things like dynamic layouts and responsive design.

In general terms, we can say that liquid or fluid interfaces can lead to more efficient and effective interfaces, by providing users with more relevant and personalized information. Which, of course, leads us to Quantum UX domains.

Quantum UX, on the other hand, uses a variety of disciplines, usually starting with an AI-based design and data science models that bring all the data together to extract behaviors. This data can be gleaned from online user behavior, but also from research in fields such as psychology, anthropology, linguistics, sociology, and even fashion!

Thus, Quantum UX optimizes the user experience by providing more accurate and personalized recommendations and suggestions. Although Quantum UX is mostly focused on search results and sales at the moment, it can be applied to many domains and goals.

Examples of Quantum UX at work

A quick and easy example is apps that switch to a dark mode depending on ambient light, or health apps that respond to specific information from the user’s vital signs. Of course, this is the simplest and most well-known application area, but Quantum UX is used in almost all IoT developments, accessible products, physical and mental health services, and many more.

Overall, the trend towards more supportive and considerate apps reflects the growing importance of personalization, engagement and user experience in the digital world. As UCD, AI based design and technology based on users continues to advance, we can expect to see even more apps that are designed to provide users with the support and assistance they need to enhance their lives. However, it’s important to remember that optimising design for efficiency is simple because it is quantifiable, but optimising design for emotions (see qualitative research) is trickier. Those who get the balance right and enhance the unquantifiable aspects of life – empathy, wellbeing, delight – can create truly enriching experiences and products.

The keys for more advanced interactive and AI-based design

generative design: examples using Midjourney's AI-based design interface
Generative design: two examples done in minutes using Midjourney’s AI-based interface

There are some considerations to keep in mind when we create an experience that user will enjoy (and therefore use more). The following set of considerations includes some of the most important guidelines to follow in order to account for a great user experience.

Make it adaptive

Remember the old days of “adaptive design” (interface design specifically built for different types of devices)? Well, this is more or less the same thing, except instead of considering a System Centered Design (where the design is made to ensure perfect behavior of the technology without considering the user), we talk about User Centered Design (or UCD) in combination with Machine Centered Design

Make it simple and familiar

To create an experience that is considerate of the user, it is also important to clarify any complexity that may be present. This can be achieved by using familiar mental models – structures that the user already knows – to explain and order something new and otherwise confusing. Remember that changing known structures and expectations is a cognitive load (even if it is done for a better purpose).

Consider context and constraints

it is important to consider the physical context of use when developing an app. This aspect is often neglected, but we must remember that apps are used by people in the real world, in varying environments and conditions. Therefore, it is important to design for all types of contexts to ensure that the object or service is easy to use in the environment in which it is used.

Make it wow

Even though the design needs to be simple and familiar (as mentioned above), that doesn’t mean it has to be boring. Make sure it has a “wow factor” that sets your app, product, or service apart from all others. Go skeuomorphic, go brutalist, go 3D.

And this doesn’t just apply to design or visual features: You can create a “wow factor” by appealing to each of the nine senses. You can surprise your users with well-designed CX techniques, you can create customizable materials, you can simply personalize their experience. How about your app creating an ultra-personalized AI-generated animation for your users on their birthday? It’s almost free and they’ll share it with everyone they know!

Cater to user preferences

When designing any type of user experience, it is important to consider the needs and preferences of the user. It is important to resist the temptation to demand too much attention and energy from the user. Instead, consider how much time and energy the user needs to spend to get the most out of a particular experience.

Embrace accessibility.

Another crucial aspect of designing considerate user experiences is caring for the user. It’s important to consider what the user is thinking right now and how our design can provide comfort and support. To achieve this, it’s important to delve into emotional design and accessibility. It should not be about success or failure, but about supporting the users on their journey.

Automate Processes

Interactive design is all about interaction. Real-time interaction is almost impossible unless you automate processes. These processes can be automatically detected by the system (example: lighting conditions, body data, etc.) or requested by the user. The important takeaway here is that AI-based design is an invaluable tool for Human Computer Interaction (HCI) when it comes to automation.

References

J. Raskin, “The Humane Interface: New Directions for Designing Interactive Systems

S. Bag, G. Srivastava, Md M. Al Bashir et al, “Journey of customers in this digital era: Understanding the role of artificial intelligence technologies in user engagement and conversion” (PDF)

M. Brossard, G. Gatto, A. Gentile, T. Merle, C. Wlezien, “How generative design could reshape the future of product development

European Parliament, “Assistive Technologies for People with Disabilities” (PDF)

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