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Chapter 2. Cognitive Friction > “Interaction” Versus “Interface” Design

“Interaction” Versus “Interface” Design

I prefer the term interaction design to the term interface design because “interface” suggests that you have code over here, people over there, and an interface in between that passes messages between them. It implies that only the interface is answerable to the users' needs. The consequence of isolating design at the interface level is that it licenses programmers to reason like this: “I can code as I please because an 'interface' will be slapped on after I'm done.” It postpones design until after programming, when it is too late.

Like putting an Armani suit on Attila the Hun, interface design only tells how to dress up an existing behavior. For example, in a data-reporting tool, interface design would eliminate unnecessary borders and other visual clutter from a table of figures, color code important points, provide rich visual feedback when the user clicks on data elements, and so on. This is better than nothing, but far from sufficient. Microsoft invests many millions of dollars on interface design, but its products remain universally unloved.


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