Wednesday, October 29, 2008

User-centric Design--Simple and Distinctive

Designing for the targeted user ...

"Designing products with just the right features rather than a lot of unused features is an art. While attractive hardware, easy media consumption and web browsing using touchscreen text is central to the iPhone, the HTC T-Mobile G1 targets Google users with convenient mobile access to services that previously required mobile web browsers. Here are tips and tricks regarding the choice of simplicity vs. quantity.

Simplicity and distinctiveness are essential to usability in mobile phones. To satisfy users, developers of mobile devices must aim for these qualities when deciding which features and applications to include in their handsets.

Device manufacturers and service providers often race to include as many applications and features as possible because they can, and not because people want them. Often the users end up having to navigate through a myriad of extra features to get to the ones they actually want.

One example of this kind of feature race is how manufacturers try to solve the problem of text input. There are several handsets that offer text input through every possible method: hardware keys, touchscreen buttons and handwriting recognition. Does this make text input easier or does it generate a chaotic experience for the user? Who uses all inputs?

Targeting too many types of users with one device means not satisfying anyone. Another approach is to identify which input method is ideal for a targeted user and support only that option. For example, the HTC T-Mobile G1 only features QWERTY input, which makes its UI less cluttered with options.

Being usable and efficient with features should be the standard in mobile UIs. There are some simple check boxes to tick when considering a design: minimizing memory load; visual and interaction consistency; providing feedback; error prevention; providing user control and freedom; using natural language (avoiding industry or tech-speak). However, in the bigger picture, usability and interaction design is similar to learning the technique of painting. As much as you may have impeccable technique with a brush and an eye for color, it probably will not make you a Michelangelo - usability is the technique, but understanding the user is the art. A combination of both makes an excellent user experience."    (Continued via, Dan Gärdenfors)    [Usability Resources]

HTC T-Mobile G1 - Usability, User Interface Design

HTC T-Mobile G1


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