Interaction design programs are a key component in building software, websites and other digital services for users. Along with programming itself, interaction design is an art and a science. Choosing the right interaction design programs can make or break how practical and successful implementing and deploying a construct may become. With that in mind, we’re going to look at the top five interaction design suites available.
#1 – Adobe Dreamweaver
Adobe Dreamweaver is one of the most advanced Web authoring suites available. It’s a one stop system for designing CSS, PHP, physical web layouts and even java development as well. It presents a rather unique and intuitive point and click design layout for creating websites in a visual manner. What is seen during design is what will be seen when the page is deployed. It offers a preview system to check that this is always true, and can support previewing in several browser modes, to optimize the compatibility and standards compliance.
Adobe Dreamweaver may be a bit prohibitively expensive and can be a bit difficult to learn since the transition to the CS series happened.
#2 – MonoDevelop
MonoDevelop is an open-source alternative to Microsoft’s Visual Studio suite, making it not only free, but bringing along some extra perks as well. Unlike VS, Mono is capable of building applications for a multitude of platforms including mobile, Mac and Linux distributions as well as windows. Utilizing GTK, the interface is standard across the board, and the Microsoft-quality visual GUI editor is top notch, making it just as effective as VS where it counts. Mono is a great solution, though if one plans to publish exclusively for Windows, it’s probably best to stick to Microsoft’s suite, for obvious reasons. The GUI editor in MonoDevelop is a pain to find after initial installation, and GTK sometimes argues during design.
#3 – Swish
Swish is an excellent design suite for those seeking to work with Flash. Bringing in the intuitive design interface of Flash proper, Swish reduces the clunky obfuscation of Adobe’s CS interfaces and reduces the inclination to be a coding SDK. Swish is a way to create simple point and click interfaces in Flash compatible framew orks, without the muss and fuss of Flash’s extra features. A few years back, its applets were far too big and did not always work across the board, but these issues have been eliminated in recent builds. Swish is not free, and lacks the programmability of Flash, so it may be useful primarily for interface designers, but need actual Flash programmers to import them and add the backbone code.
#4 – Unity
Unity was originally designed as a game design studio, but its cross platform capacity and 3D acceleration is making it into a very useful and respected tool for 3D interfaces in practical application. In fact, Unity is being used to develop several prototype 3D mobile interfaces as well as a new Web interface model, which will be shown at a CES show in the next couple years. This is going to be a big thing in the coming years, so Unit’s worth investigating, even if not into gaming, for new prospects in interface design. Unity requires knowledge of C# and is a bit less visual in the design phase than others on the list, for now at least.
#5 – Balsamiq Mockups
Balsamiq is the indie entry on this list, designed for general GUI layout planning and drafting. It’s compatible with just about any platform as a stand-alone application or as a browser app or mobile app as well.
With a stylistic look and very intuitive feel, it’s great for passive planning of interface layouts in a manner everyone involved in development can easily understand and translate to practicality. Balsamiq does not create actual interfaces, only mockups.
These are just some of the great interaction design programs being developed and refined right now, and over time, many more will continue to change the way we view design as a whole.