How interactive digital texts are designed: A critic to the current model




interactive text, interactive text design, digital text, digital books, interactive design


This paper describes the results of the experiment to data the practices that the graphic designers follow to when developing a TDI (interactive digital text) if their previous experience has been only with printed publications. For the tests, the sample designers used the capabilities and interactive editing tools of the Adobe InDesign program and, based on the empirical results, a standardized model called MDA (Current Design Model) was formulated, from which one can identify the recurrent failures in the work process, which allows for pose possible solutions.

Introduction: From the theoretical aspect, the methods for editorial design do not include the possibility of an interactive design. According to Jorge de Buen (2008) there are two methods for editorial design, additive and subtractive, none of these methods include what is being done in practice: the use of interactive features. "The interactive is defined by the capacity of participation on the part of the receiver, with the consequent modification of the original message, which is reconstructed according to the interests and interpretations of the last decoder; something that leads us to question the alteration of the idea of authorship. We refer to a new author-creator that is characterized by its plurality" (Caldevilla Domínguez, 2011). For the purposes of this experiment, TDI is defined as any text, whose message is transmitted through the combination of written language, animation, audio, video, links, and graphics, with the possibility of being used at will by the reader to complete the message, and not just as accompaniment. In this definition, the term "text" is preferred, which allows us to move from the book, journal and newspaper conceptions coming from the world of printed publications (Salinas, 2017). The lack of a specific method for the edition of TDI results in a practical problem: the designers adapt at will the additive or subtractive methods to produce TDI and although these adaptations can have successes, knowing how they solve the production of a TDI allows to identify the recurring errors.

Method: 44 graphic design students were the case study in order to observe, gather and describe the current practices that graphic designers use in the development of TDI. They were asked to design and produce a TDI, using theoretical knowledge, the experience of having made at least one book and knowledge of the interactive capabilities of the Adobe InDesign editing program; after that, the instrument was applied for the collection of information.

Results: A general work itinerary was identified that is represented by the MDA scheme (Current Design Model). This model is not a solution, but a representation of the current situation about the tasks developed by graphic designers when designing TDI without following a specific method for interactive design.

Discussion or Conclusion: Using the MDA model, corrections to the work itinerary can be proposed, obtaining a method that considers the design of the interactive message, which induces the formulation of a method for TDI.


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Author Biography

Isabel Salinas-Gutiérrez, Universidad Autónoma de Baja California

Research professor at the School of Engineering and Technology of the Autonomous University of Baja California, attached to the educational program in Graphic Design and leader of the Academic Body Design and Communication.


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How to Cite

Salinas-Gutiérrez, I. (2019). How interactive digital texts are designed: A critic to the current model. Nova Scientia, 11(23), 371–407.



Human and Social Sciences


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