Saturday, October 06, 2007

Challenges of Interface Design for Mobile Devices

Tips for designing mobile device interface designs ...

"The single most important concept to master when designing mobile device interfaces is “context”. The context in which an application is used and the context of how information is input are both key issues; each must be understood before a well crafted design may be implemented. When these two notions of context are explored, it becomes clear that designing for a mobile device can lead to a solution that is worlds different than its desktop equivalent.
Context of Use

Mobile devices are excellent at connecting users to information; and while consumption of information is likely the largest segment of mobile device usage, interacting with a mobile device to perform important tasks is a usage segment that deserves significant attention. This is because generative work conducted on mobile devices tends to be tactical in nature and demands a sense of immediacy. Users have a very specific need and desire to accomplish their goal in the easiest and fastest way possible. This fact alone helps explain why mobile interfaces are designed the way they are:

* Feature sets are optimized to streamline common use cases
* Use typography to show hierarchy and importance
* Features are progressively displayed
* Large buttons are used to make interactions actionable

Let’s explore a mobile email client as an example of how these attributes are manifested.
Streamline Common Use Cases

Whether you’re lounging at the beach, riding the subway, or at a client meeting, the need to access email on your mobile device is likely predicated by a sense immediacy. If at this point you thought “What about boredom?”, I’d like to remind you of the beach scenario. A complex interaction involving zooming, tiny check boxes, and the like is the last thing one needs. Several mobile email applications address this challenge by displaying an optimized interface that allows users to select an inbox or folder, view a list of messages, and then act on a specific message. Though this model may not be best when dealing with bulk actions, it simplifies the interaction to a primary use case and allows users to get the information they need. Once the user has access to the information being sought, additional options are contextually presented."    (Continued via Yahoo! User Interface Blog)    [Usability Resources]

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