Explore design in 'The Mobile Frontier'

30 Mar 2012 5:00 PM | Deleted user

Mobile design is still in a state of invention, and designers should embrace the unknown, said Rachel Hinman at Tuesday's UIE webinar at SAS. She talked about three emergent mobile topics: shapeshifting, a brave NUI world, and comfortable computing.


A lot of current mobile design is basically a scaled-down version of websites, Rachel said, which is not good. People use mobile devices everywhere, not just when seated at a desk. We should think of content for mobile devices as fluid like water, and not locked into pages. To account for different contexts of use on mobile devices, research and testing should be done in the "wild" as much as possible.

A Brave NUI World

We are currently between GUI (graphical user interface) and NUI (natural user interface), said Rachel, a researcher, designer and a recognized thought leader in mobile user experience. In the GUI model, computers as used as a tool for efficiency. This model requires users to recognize and recall the uses for buttons and menus. By contrast, NUI designs are fluid, unmediated and organic. The content is the star. People want to touch the content itself, not a button. Experiences unfold, which has given way to new and interesting design patterns:

* nested doll: overview to detail (think iPhone)
* hub and spoke: always goes back to the center (flipboard app)
* bento box: many parts that interact with each other in different ways (tripadviser, kayak)
* filtered view: bucket of information (think eye doctor: do you like this one, or this one?)

If a web page is an information boulder, think of turning those boulders into information pebbles and reconstructing the experience for mobile devices.

Comfortable Computing

Mobile devices are the gateway drugs for ubiquitous computing, Rachel said. People associate the iPad with sociability and intimacy, and often watch movies or read books on them in bed or on the couch, for example. Using tablets like the iPad is often not about getting things done. "Say goodbye to 'Done,'" Rachel said. People are interested in exploring information on devices, and we need to invent new and more human ways for users to interact with information.

Rachel Hinman is writing a book - also called "The Mobile Frontier" - to be published this year by Rosenfeld Media. She is also a Senior Research Scientist at the Nokia Research Center in Palo Alto, California.

Here are the slides from the webinar: http://www.slideshare.net/Rachel_Hinman/the-mobile-frontier-11393284.

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