Five Principles of Interaction Design v2.0

By Adelle Rewerts on December, 17 2020

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Adelle Rewerts

Our original post “The Five Principles of Interaction Design” quickly became one of our most popular pieces back in 2014. Today, Onliner Adelle Rewerts, a Senior User Experience Architect, shares a fresh 2020 perspective on this important design topic.
User Experience is about building products and services that work for the people using them and for the business creating that product. To create effective products, we need to understand the business, understand the user, and bridge the gap between them.

Interaction Design is part of that bridge.

Looking beyond the visual design and the content, Interaction Designers consider the ways a person will engage with a digital product and the underlying technology to support that. This product might be considered a website, game, kiosk, or a mobile app.

These days, Interaction Designers play key roles in augmented reality, chat bots, immersive experiences, and voice recognition experiences as well.

As we design these experiences, Interaction Designers consider what the person is trying to accomplish by engaging with the product, what is going on around them at the time, their preconceived notions, and their physical abilities.


Interaction Designers' recommendations are founded in these five principles:

1. Consistency

Humans are sensitive to change. When elements look or react differently it becomes immediately noticeable. Our collective digital maturity has grown since the very first website experience and so has our expectations of what happens when you click, or scroll, or swipe.

Creating consistent reactions to engagement within an application is important. and so is relying on the user’s expectations of engagement. It creates trust with your product (and your brand) so the user can focus on the task at hand.

It’s fun to experiment and incorporate new modes of engagement. An Interaction Designer considers how changes to the interaction model will improve the experience without creating distrust or fear.

2. Perceivability

A user should be able to review an interface and easily identify how and where they can interact with the product.

3. Learnability

Interactions should be easy to learn and remember. Even complex applications for unique tasks need to meet the user where they are. Interaction Designers are heavily involved in user research and user testing so that they can fully understand a user’s mental model. Interaction complexity should be related to the task and the user – ensuring that key elements are easily identified and clickable.

Machine Learning

For instance, you or I may be confused when looking at an Air Traffic Controller application, but if the app clearly represents the tasks and views the Controller expects, then the interaction can be both complex and easy to learn.

4. Predictability

Users should not have to guess what will happen when they click a button, or what just happened when they swiped on their touch pad. Interaction Designers consider the user’s mental model for interactions when designing them and how to incorporate new interactions without upsetting the overall experience.

5. Feedback

We all need feedback.
In real life we might say things like “Can you hear me?”, “Do you see my screen?”, “Do you understand what I’m trying to say?”

We’re no different when we’re having a digital experience.

Interaction Designers consider what kind of feedback to provide users in different situations. It could be a hover effect on a mouse, or a slight shake of a modal window to demonstrate a password was not accepted. The feedback needs to reflect the seriousness and the positive or negative ramifications of the interaction.


Accessibility refers to the ease-of-use of a product for users of varying physical abilities. Font size, colour contrast, captioning videos and images, and screen reader compatibility are common accessibility considerations. Interaction Designers also consider the user’s different physical attributes, like how differences in speech, height, and range of motion may be accommodated and how doing so impacts the experience for everyone.

Online Business Systems' Digital Studio is your partner for digital product development. Our highly skilled team will collaborate with you through the product development process from Product Management, User Experience, Interaction Design, and Development to create engaging products.

Let’s talk about what we can do for your business.


If you enjoyed this blog, you should check out another great Digital transformation topic like "Customer-Centric B2B and JTBD!

Customer-Centric B2B


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