This week I attended Rachel Hinman’s day-long workshop on The Mobile Frontier at the UX Immersion 2012 conference. The conference, a new gathering arranged by User Interface Enginnering, featured deep dives on mobile and agile development. Here are my notes:
There are Many Similarities Between Mobile and Desktop UX Design
- Many of the tools and techniques we use are the same.
- We sketch.
- We prototype.
- We need to learn what our users need and want.
But There are Also Differences
- A phone is not a computer.
- There is no sense of having windows or UI depth.
- There is a smaller screen for user input and new inputs based on context and device sensors.
How a UX Designer Transitions to the Mobile Mindset
- Buy a device and integrate it into your life.
- Know the medium and become mindful.
- Participate in the experience.
- Brace yourself for a fast and crazy ride.
- This is an emergent area of user experience so nothing we do will be constant for long.
- Embrace ambiguity, it’s fun and exciting.
Context is complex but is essential to great mobile experiences
- The mobile context is about understanding the relations between people, places, and things.
- Relationships between people, places, and things are spatial, temporal, social, and semantic.
Designing for Contexts
- Design for inattention and interruption.
- The mobile use experience is snorkling, the desktop user experience is scuba diving.
- Reduce cognitive load at every step in the experience.
- Ideate in the wild — you can’t innovate in mobile from behind your monitor.
- Ruthlessly edit content and features down to what’s essential.
- It’s a good way to develop ruthless editing skills.
- You can change a design quickly at little cost.
- No expert skills needed.
- The exercise helps designers new to mobile who do not yet know the heuristics and constraints of the medium.
- It’s essential for mobile UX because the medium is so new.
- If you are prototyping for a desktop app and a mobile app, allocate to mobile triple the amount of time you devout to the desktop.
- Prototyping helps you fail early and fast.
- Because a mobile experience is so contextual and personal, explore techniques like body storming and storyboarding.
- Prototyping is a great way to fail when it matters (and costs) the least.
- Desktop prototyping is a luxury, mobile prototyping is essential.
Graphical User Interface vs. Natural User Interface
- We are at a pivotal moment in the design of user experiences — the NUI/GUI chasm.
- A GUI features heavy chrome, icons, buttons, affordances; what you see is what you get.
- A NUI features a little chrome as possible and is fluid so content can be the star.
- As UX designers we need to work to eliminate chrome, not make the chrome beautiful.
Motion as a Design Element
- Animations and transitions can teach users how the information unfolds (see Flipboard).
- Motion brings fun to the party, and who doesn’t want to have fun.