Interface engineering

For reasons unknown interface has become synonymous with layouts and visual aspects of the design. Those are certainly a part of the execution of interface design but relatively a fraction of scope the meaning encompasses:

in·ter·face  
/ˈintərˌfās/

Noun
A point where two systems, subjects, organizations, etc., meet and interact.

Verb
Interact with (another system, person, organization, etc.).

Interface engineering facilitates communication – not just interactive communication but also expectation management and consequently expressive responses. Interface design offers actualization of said communications in an interactive environment.

Inception & requirements gathering

Before creating anything consciously it must be imagined first, and to imagine it requires forming specifications and expectations of it. For instance, if creating a website you have established viable features as well as functions to be executed and those features create the experience interaction points between the user and the solution.

By aligning outlines of required functionality a solution will need to accomplish in order to satisfy the goals of the project against user expectations we determine the suitability and effectiveness a potential interface approach will have on the clarity, predictability, and comprehensibility of the experience.

Through examination and validation of interactions required of the interface we establish principles and patterns which will guide the definition and execution of interface engineering efforts.

Interface engineering execution

To avoid miscommunication we seek understanding of intent as well as assurances of same. Well established practice that achieves this is parallel and iterative development of layout, design and interaction architecture within a rapid prototyping development framework.
Although prototyping is often considered a first step of the execution phase – as it assigns tangibility to the solution, it examines and compares variations of the solution while allowing it to grow and pivot, making it an elaboration process.

Utilization of standardized or development of proprietary interface frameworks which may consist of layout (grid and breakpoint) specifications, interface element development guidelines, kinetic design considerations etc. ensure consistency of the experience as well as flexibility in future development.

interface engineering specification

Interface guidelines specification

Specifications and or other definitions naturally evolve in the prototype environment, leading to final solution and elimination of the need for inflexible visual compositions, also known as mockups, wireframes etc. of individual screens, rather relaying on developing modular building blocks which may be carried through different experiences and contexts.

Validation and evolution

Stability of the interface depends on it’s flexibility – it’s capacity in adapting to new requirements, implementation of refined assumptions and integration of or with the interface itself.

In order to grow, interfaces, as any other system must learn by observing performance and improving rather than striving for unsustainable ideal solution. In order words, there is no perfect solution and it must not be forced. One should instead progressively mature the experience offered to the users, accept feedback and innovate accordingly.

 
 

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