Interaction Design and UX: Understanding the Difference

May 5, 2020

Athar Majeed

What’s the difference between UX and Interaction Design?

Well, these two terms are often interchanged. This is because both disciplines are associated to improve user experience with a digital product. But they are not the same process. 

Interaction Design determines the flow of things, such as visiting from one page to another. UX design optimizes the look, feel, and function of those pages. 

Here we have outlined the definition of both terms as well as the key differences between them.  

What is Interaction Design?

Interaction design is based on how a user interacts with specific elements of a design. Simply put, it is a discipline that determines the interactions between a system and its user. 

Also abbreviated as IxD, it is a practice of creating interactive digital products and services. Interaction designs create intuitive designs that let users complete core tasks and activities. 

John Kolko, Author of Thoughts on Interaction Design, defines interaction design as—

Interaction Design is the creation of a dialogue between a person and a product, system, or service. This dialogue is both physical and emotional in nature and is manifested in the interplay between form, function, and technology as experienced over time.

 It’s a more defined task than UX, as ID focuses on how the information on the interface should be delivered to the user. As such, interaction designers often use prototypes, blueprints, and wireframes that determine how the various elements of the interface are interrelated, based on the logic of the intended interaction. 

It is a limited approach to design compared to UX. The objective of ID is to ensure “an interactivity flow”, that is to create a roadmap to connect all interface elements to create a usable product. 


If a menu drops down or expands when a cursor hovers over it, this is what we call interaction design. It simply means that how certain product reacts when a user clicks or taps. 

Some Common Practices Associated with Interaction Design

  • Giving a clue through the appearance such as color, shape, and size.
  • Providing information to a user to let them know what will happen as they perform an action.
  • Providing error messages to correct the problem or explain why the error happened. 
  • Providing feedback once the action is performed.
  • Using of edges and corners to place menus.
  • Using Familiar formats. 

Interaction Designers work to create meaningful interaction between users and the digital products/services they use. 

What is User Experience or UX Design?

User experience or UX design ensures the overall experience between a user and a product.

UX design focuses on each and every element that defines user experience, how it makes the user feel, and how simple it is for the user to do their tasks. UX design aims to ensure easy, efficient, and relevant experiences. 

And most importantly, UX is an umbrella term that also covers Interaction Design along with other disciplines like User Research, Experience Strategy, and Information Architecture. 

So you can say that Interaction Design is a part of UX design. 

However, unlike Interactive Design, it is not confined to the interactive elements as it goes beyond certain elements such as the look and feel of the design. 

Read Also: 6 Useful Tips To Start Your Career in UX Design

Understanding the Key Difference between UX and Interaction Design

So you must have understood the basics of both UX and Interaction design. 

And we think that it would help you understand the differences between them. 

Keep in mind that UX Design covers Interaction Design. There can’t be an outstanding user experience without a good interaction design. If a product is not simple to use, it is less likely to deliver a satisfying experience. 

To make you understand the difference between Interaction Design and UX design here is a simple example—

You are exploring a website and want to contact the owners. In this case, you look for a button on the menu or a CTA that’s nearby. If the website has the right interaction design, you can easily locate the button to access the contact form. The interaction design team will help you travel from point A to point B from any page. 

When you click or tap over that contact button, you reach to the contact form. What if that form is complex and asks you too many things? Top of that, it fails to load. That’s a problem to be taken care of by the UX design team. The transition was great since you reached the desired place. But the experience was not so great. 

In this scenario, a UX designer will optimize the contact page and make sure it looks feels and functions great. 

Read Also: What Is The Difference Between Product Design and UX Design?

Bottom Line:

Although ID is encompassed by UX design, it doesn’t mean that they can be interchanged. 

They are not the same if both services are provided by one designer. However, both services are important for creating a successful website. That’s even necessary as the digital world is continuously stirred by new technologies like VR, voice-activated devices, and AI.  

What do you think? Let us know by commenting below. 


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