Interactive Experience Design: Key Principles for Creating an Effective Installation

Interactive experiences are quickly gaining popularity as innovative tools for engaging an audience. They can be used in many different settings, including special events and cultural showcases, public buildings, hospitality properties, and corporate offices. 

While many interactive experiences are developed purely for aesthetic pleasure, they also have many potential practical purposes. Examples include wayfinding, branding, and a unique means of communicating defining goals or values.

Successful interactive experience design relies on the strategic use of several core principles that engage viewers. Artists and art development professionals describe these principles using technical terminology. In lay language, core principles include:

A compelling purpose

While interactive art experiences have inherent creative value, they tend to make a stronger and more meaningful impression when they advance an underlying purpose. Here are some questions you can ask to help you succinctly identify and express such a purpose:

  • Why do you want to create an interactive experience?
  • Are you trying to highlight a particular issue or value? What is it and why is it important?
  • Why do you specifically want to develop an interactive experience rather than create artwork in another format?

The underlying purpose should be strong, easy to express, and aligned with some kind of compelling benefit.

A simple and clearly delineated objective

This interactive experience design principle ties into having a compelling purpose, extending that sentiment to the project’s end goal. As with the purpose, it is easiest to create an impactful and enjoyable installation if the objective can be defined clearly in simple and plain language.

Examples of simple objectives include:

Ideally, the project’s objectives should tie into its purpose and advance that purpose in a direct and tangible way.

An intuitive and easy-to-use interface

Perhaps most importantly, successful interactive experience design depends heavily on creating a user interface (UI) that is simple, intuitive, and engages viewers. To this end, many interactive art designers draw on a principle sometimes called functional minimalism

The key tenet of functional minimalism holds that interactive exhibits should present viewers with the absolute least amount of input control needed to engage with a particular task or experience. The presence of unnecessary input options redirects the viewer’s attention away from the interactive exhibit, instead focusing it on the installation’s UI elements rather than the artwork itself.

Additional interactive experience design considerations

Depending on the context and situation, several other noteworthy principles can factor into successful approaches to interactive experience design:

  • Discoverability. Many interactive experiences serve as focal centerpieces in a room or space, but some have smaller and subtler formats. In these cases, designers need to formulate specific strategies for enhancing their discoverability by passersby and site visitors.
  • Easily visible affordances. “Affordances” is a technical term that describes the manner through which interactive elements indicate their interactivity to viewers. Users cannot interact with elements if they do not know those elements are actionable, making the intuitive visibility of affordances a critical consideration. 
  • Experimental development. User feedback can go a long way toward identifying interactive experience design flaws and shortcomings before launching a project. Conceptual modeling and dynamic testing are effective ways to identify solutions preemptively.

Connect with an insightful, experienced, and knowledgeable interactive experience design professional at WRAPPED Studios.

As a leading custom digital art agency, the WRAPPED Studios team has advanced interactive experience design insights. Clients seeking to engage viewers with creative digital exhibits can consult our expert digital art advisors to develop a project direction that applies these and other key principles to beneficial effect. 

Our studio also creates interactive walls, custom digital signage, and unique digital art experiences that serve both aesthetic and commercial purposes. We match each client with a dedicated art advisor, who will work closely with you to help you identify a compelling purpose, actionable goals, and a clear route to a highly successful project. Our artists and technicians will then bring the project to life, handling all the necessary installation details.

To learn more, or to schedule your initial consultation, please contact our studio.