Are you using the Smartphone fully with your design?

For years each of us have worked on user interfaces that interact in 1 dimension and with a maximum of 4 options. Left Click, Right Click, Centre Click and Scroll. And if you were stuck designing for a Mac then you just had Click and Scroll. Things changed rapidly with the first iPhone and the others that followed. With them came the world of multi-touch. Things rapidly changed from Click to Tap. Then came a whole lot of other gestures, Swipe Left, Right, Top, Bottom, while the Scroll was still around. Add to this Pinch and Zoom complicated further by 2 finger and 3 finger swipes Left, Right… and as if this was not all, there was Shake, Tilt and Gravity. 

On todays date, most of these are not supported for HTML and JS, at least not without some serious effort. But on a Native App, you can really go crazy trying to decide which option to give. Apps like Snapseed, Magichour, have successfully managed to compress the complicated process of photo editing into a small 4″ screen (sometimes  smaller) and yes, they work. The trick is to find out what comes naturally to the user on each device. Twitter’s retweet and share options hidden behind a swipe action was one of the first to exploit these features, and today almost everyone understands the process.

Twitter App was one of the first ones to take advantage of vertical scroll and horizontal swipe in the same view, now almost every app has this!

Twitter App was one of the first ones to take advantage of vertical scroll and horizontal swipe in the same view, now almost every app has this!

When I go to play Football, I carry a Football

It’s a no-brainer that when you want to play Football, or have to play Football, you carry a Football. But then you Gym bag is needed to carry the ball and a few other things like the Spike Boots, well you cant really drive with those on and so on.

But what if you want to play football and your Gym bag was big and already carried a Basketball, a Hockey Stick, a Baseball Bat, a Cricket Bat, a Tennis Racquet etc. Would you still carry all of them to the Football field? My guess is not, you would locate a smaller bag.

At this point, some may argue that softwares are like tools and not balls, but even then, I rarely see someone putting the Soldering Iron with their Wrench in the same box.

And that’s exactly the problem with too many internet based services getting clubbed and combined together. When I want to mail, I just want to mail. When I want to edit my documents, I just want to do that. When I want to speak to someone, I just would like to do that. These are options that should be separate, not because it’s easier to have them like that, but it’s human to have them like that.

However, there are many internet based services that are trying to combine all this on to a single webpage and calling it a dashboard. It’s good, but as long as that shows only the highlights and details are well segregated. What they need to list down are the services that Need to be separate and The services that are auxiliary like chat, tweet, global positioning etc. If it’s not done that way, your user may soon find his Football and Wall Street buddies on the same dining table. Sure there can be overlaps, but not a complete one, and it can be a disaster.

What would work?

  1. Segregate the Work and Play software (Linkedin and Facebook)
  2. Segregate Productive and Communication software (Google Docs and Gmail)
  3. Segregate services like Photos and Videos (Like Youtube and Flickr)
  4. Bind all these with Social and Professional Networking software (Google chat riding within Gmail)