Designing for mobile

By Elaine McVicar

Today there are six-billion mobile subscribers in the world – meaning if there were one mobile per owner then 87% of the world’s population would have one.

And considering that fewer than three billion people use a desktop computer, that’s quite a big difference.

Mobile devices are clearly here to stay, and along with them come a whole host of new constraints (and opportunities) for our designs. I recently wrote two articles discussing the points to consider when designing for mobile for UX Booth:

Part One: Information Architecture

The first thing we need to understand about mobile design is that it’s different – and not just with regards to size. The physicality and specifications of mobile devices impart different design affordances and requirements.

In this first article I look at:

  • The impact that touchscreens, smaller displays and the fact our mobile’s are always within constant access has on design
  • Mobile devices have fundamentally changed user expectations and I discuss how important it is for designers to follow a user-centred design process.
  • There are currently four popular mobile delivery methods. I look at the main differences between them and the pros and cons of employing each.
  • Finally I look at the popular information architecture patterns available to designers.

Read Part 1 Information architecture

Part Two: Interaction Design

Most modern mobile devices employ touch screens and we use them not only to view content, but also to interact with that content. Designers must consider ergonomics, gestures, transitions, and finally, mobile-specific interaction patterns.

In this section I look at the ways users physically interact with this content. This includes:

  • The way users hold a device and the requirements of the hit areas. Both are important considerations when designing for mobile.
  • Gestures allow access to the dedicated functionality of the touch screen. I look at how they differ across different mobile platforms.
  • Common interaction patterns improve navigation, select content, sign in/out, and negotiate forms. I look at how these replace traditional menus and the pros and cons of each.

Read Part 2 Interaction design

Look out for part 3 where I’ll explore how the layout and visual design can support the information architecture and interactions to create a thoroughly engaging experience.

What do you think?