I read the "Elements of User Experience" by Jesse James Garrett and found the interaction design portion very interesting. This is because I feel like it's most closely related to understanding people - what are our natural tendencies, why do we behave certain ways, what we respond well to, etc. I find humans fascinating!
"Habit and reflex are the foundation for much of our interaction with the world"
Garrett talks about the use of convention and metaphors in design, and makes a logical point that people are creatures of habit. When designing, think about what their natural reaction or behavior would be and don't stray too far from it. If people are familiar with seeing a "play" button as a triangle, don't try to be "innovative" and use a trapezoid in its place. Consistency is good design.
I think people have a tendency to think that designers are just visual artists, but we do way more than make things look pretty. In fact, I prefer minimal design because it's simple and makes the "design" invisible.
I recently read an article on Medium called "The Dribblisation of Design", and I think it makes a great point that certain websites applaud the stylistic elements of design so much that it drowns out the real reason for design - to solve a problem.
"Prevention > Correction > Recovery"
Design is great when everything works perfectly in a happy flow, but what about handling exceptions? Or errors? Garrett shares a quick framework where the layers of error handling are in a prioritized order to increase the chances of users having a positive experience. I agree that the best design is to have such an intuitive interface that it's not possible to have errors, but I understand there's bound to be an exception that's not accounted for. I think auto-correction is annoying and makes users feel they are not in control. I would always give users an option to correct the error themselves, and as an alternative, give them info to contact customer support.
I was recently very impressed by Squarespace's error handling - where they gave me a path to try and find the answers myself, but when I got lost, there was a simple way to log a ticket and I got a personalized response from their customer support team within an hour. Props to them!
"Follow the eye"
Garrett talks about eye tracking in the context of visual design, but I would argue that it is part of interaction design as well. I find it super interesting that researchers use eye tracking equipment to see where users are looking on the screen.
I found this article written by KISSmetrics that highlights some really interesting findings from doing eye tracking studies: https://blog.kissmetrics.com/eye-tracking-studies/. I also wonder if there will be an increase in studies done with other senses such as sound and touch with the increase of wearables and sites that include sound in their interface.
I would also be interested to know any differences between personas - i.e. how would an older person who is not tech savvy respond to an app vs. a teenager who uses an iPhone every waking hour?
So what does all of this mean for my approach to design? I will take more care in understanding how I react and interact with products. I will notice patterns in common features or design styles, and take note of where I get stuck when a design is not consistent with my mental model.