Saturday, September 27, 2008

Documentation: the Hidden Challenge of Mobile Interface Design

Documenting mobile devices ...

"The increasingly influential EuroIA Summit, held at Amsterdam this weekend, includes a growing mix of technology, ethnography and sociology, as well as straight technology. Scott Weiss, HFI’s Executive Director for EMEA, will be presenting his paper, "Documenting Mobile 2.0 IA", at the Summit, focusing on how mobile design differs from documenting desktop designs, and the challenges associated with mobile information architecture.

Key challenges under review include the changing focus of soft key labels, animation as part of the application’s interaction, gestural user interfaces, and the constraints posed by the business requirements of the telecoms industry.

Documenting mobile designs, Weiss says, differs from documenting desktop designs. Oddly, mobile designs are trickier to clearly describe, since soft key labels change as the 'focus' moves about the screen. These IAs are further complicated when animation becomes, not just adornment, but an integral part of the interaction of an application. Touch, surprisingly, is more closely aligned with desktop UIs, due to the direct manipulation parallels; however, gestural user interfaces present yet new challenges.

Mobile design is further complicated by the business requirements of the telecoms industry:
1. Multiple versions of a design are required to accommodate different brands and different feature sets;
2. Designs must be delivered on extremely tight and often-changing schedules;
3. Equipment samples are rarely available until after designs have been finalised. These challenges have contributed to the lightweight, quick-to-generate methods presented in this session."    (Continued via Usability News, Joanna Bawa)    [Usability Resources]

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