Interaction gestalt and the design of aesthetic interactions

Lim, et. al. (2007) apply a visual perception theory (gestalt) to interaction design, defining 11 attributes of interaction.

They propose the idea of interaction gestalt as a framework for aesthetic design of interactive spaces, such as web sites. A gestalt implies looking at the big picture, and the emphasis on interaction here is intended to expand designers’ traditional viewpoint from mere features to a larger and more holistic perspective on the design space.

The authors argue that, for the design space to be more dynamic and creative, designers need to be guided by attributes that describe the shape of the interaction itself, rather than merely the interface’s intrinsic properties.

The table on pages 248-9 lists, defines, and gives examples of their initial set of interaction attributes, namely:

  • connectivity,
  • continuity,
  • directness,
  • movement,
  • orderliness,
  • pace,
  • proximity,
  • resolution,
  • speed,
  • state, and
  • time-depth.

They suggest that future research should refine these attributes, as well as test their usability in different combinations.

I agree with their point that a gestalt view should include interactive qualities, and not be completely focused on the interface’s feature set. However, I still think they need to keep the attributes of the interface in mind as well, since those limitations will affect what types of designs for interaction they can realistically design.

I also find that the source of their interaction attributes list is unclear. I agree with them that they should perform further testing to confirm these interactive attributes.

I must say, though, that the visual display of examples in their attributes table is very appealing and helpful.

Lim, Y., Stolterman, E., Jung, H., & Donaldson, J. (2007). Interaction gestalt and the design of aesthetic interactions. In Proceedings of the 2007 conference on Designing pleasurable products and interfaces (pp. 239-254). Helsinki, Finland: ACM. Retrieved June 20, 2009 from ACM Digital Library.