Zooming out a little, we can see that an interaction generally forms a part of a much longer series of activities undertaken in pursuit of a goal. The web form represents one step in a purchasing process. The ATM machine is one of several channels through which deposits and withdrawals might be made. The ticketing booth opens the door to a convenient and energy-saving form of transport. From the perspective of the 'user' or 'customer' this series of interactions builds to create an experience in which each interaction is a 'moment'. The quality of the experience is unique to the participant, and draws on a lifetime of experience and expectation.
I’ve often used the phrase “zooming out” on this blog as a sort of stand-in for think about the next larger context. My use of this phrase was probably inspired by a 2010 article by Steve Baty in which he describes why calls for interaction designers move beyond a narrow focus on interaction and start thinking about system design.
In rereading it, I’ve realised that the article had a huge impact on me, from my interest in transitions to my eventual focus on product management. It still informs the way I work. It’s one of those articles that I need to go back and reread periodically to remind me of why I do what I do and how I should be doing it.