Teaching the Key Elements to Successful Product Interface Design
Vicki Haberman | Georgia Institute of Technology
The role of the user along with the goals of products and systems, as a whole, are evolving as products transition from simple analog devices to complex digital devices. Defining the user becomes central to defining the operation of a device and is integral to the design process. The domain of product interface design emerges from the need to properly integrate the aesthetic, functional, and dynamic elements of a product and to ensure a device’s usability.
The user interface is defined as how an individual communicates with a device and how that device, in turn, communicates with the individual. It involves the precise interaction, “not only as what is being done, but also as how it is being done.” (Dourish, 2001) Beyond simple communication, a successful product interface defines the user’s role in the interplay and, unbeknownst to the user, properly outlines the device’s operation. To a designer, the vital role user interfaces play in these new digital devices brings about challenges in both communication and integration.
Communication is best defined in context. The design of digital devices establishes two distinct meanings, communication in the design process and communication of the interface design. Likewise, integration in respect to product interface design is defined by two applications: the integration of interface design into the product development process and the integration of hardware and software elements in relation to the user experience.