Now enter the computer, the first machine created by
that is capable of almost limitless
when properly coded into software. The interesting thing about this complex behavior, or interactivity, is that it completely alters the nature of the products it touches. Interactivity is compelling to humans, so compelling that other aspects of an interactive product become marginal. Who pays attention to the black box that sits under your desk—it is the interactive screen, keyboard, and mouse to which users pay attention. Yet, the interactive behaviors of software and other digital products, which should be receiving the lion's share of design attention, all too frequently receive no attention at all.
The traditions of design that corporations have relied on to provide the critical
of desirability for products don't provide much guidance in the world of interactivity. Design of behavior is a different kind of problem that requires greater knowledge of
, not just rules of visual composition and brand. Design of behavior requires an understanding of the user's relationship with the product from prepurchase to end-of-life. Most important of all is the understanding of how the user wishes to use the product, in what ways, and to what ends.
Planning and Designing Behavior
The planning of complex digital products,
ones that interact directly with humans, requires a significant up-front effort by professional designers, just as the planning of complex physical structures that interact with humans require a significant up-front effort by professional architects. In the case of
, that planning involves understanding how the humans occupying the structure live and work, and designing spaces to support and facilitate those behaviors. In the case of digital products, the planning involves understanding how the
using the product live and work, and designing product behavior and form that supports and facilitates the human behaviors. Architecture is an old, well-established field. The design of product and system behavior—
—is quite new, and only in recent
has it begun to come of age as a discipline.
Interaction design isn't a matter of
choice, but rather it is based on an understanding of users and cognitive principles. This is good news because it makes the design of behavior quite amenable to a repeatable process of analysis and synthesis. It doesn't mean that the design of behavior can be automated, any more than the design of form or content can be automated, but it
mean that a systematic approach is possible. Rules of form and aesthetics mustn't be discarded, of course, but they must work in harmony with the larger concern of achieving
goals via appropriately designed behaviors.
a set of
to address the needs of this new kind of behavior-oriented design that addresses the
(Rudolf, 1998) of users:
. To understand Goal-Directed Design, we first need to better understand human goals and how they provide the key to designing appropriate interactive behavior.