Some key takeaways from Luke Wroblewski’s notes on Josh Clark’s talk at “An Event Apart” in Seattle:
There are three ways to hold a phone: one thumb/one hand, two hands/one finger or thumb, and two hands/two thumbs. 49% of people observed using phones outside, used one thumb/one hand.
Half of people using phones outside use their devices with one hand, allowing only their thumb to act as their main operator. At half of the sample, it seems more important to design for this use pattern, accommodating for all patterns: one thumb/one hand, two hands/one finger or thumb, and two hands/two thumbs.
Screen size is a lousy way to detect a touchscreen. There’s no reliable way to detect touch on all devices.
This is definitely an issue I’ve encountered when looking at examples of responsive design, especially at sites that consider mobile to be more dominant. Yes, it makes sense on phones to hide menus and navigation and have them appear or expand when tapping on a hamburger button or a dropdown callout. But, if you just take that phone UI and make all of your components 100% width so that it’ll work on tablets, you’re quickly hacking your page to “adapt” to a wider browser and creating additional usability issues. Now that you’ve got 1024px instead of 320px, you have plenty of space to bring back some, if not all, of your main navigation links. Remember, 1024px width is common on both tablets and desktops. Designing with consideration to devices will greatly improve usability because browsing behaviors will differ vastly between the tablets and desktop.
The optimal touch target size is 7mm, based on the average size of human finger tips and pads. CSS2.1 defines a pixel as 1/96 of an inch. So 7mm should be 30pixels.
This seems to be something to take in to consideration for UI elements like buttons, content linking, and generally anything you want your users to tap on in order to dive deeper. For example, take Twitter for iOS. The hot areas for almost everything in the app looks to be at least 30px in at least 1 direction. A tweet displaying only 1 line of content is at least 70px, aided by the height of the avatar, but in any case, if you tap on any of that area, you get taken to that tweet’s detail view, or you might end up on the user’s profile. That’s what is important to the Twitter’s experience. You can tap on URLs and visit those pages in the browser, but that’s secondary to Twitter wanting you to tap on tweets and stay within their ecosystem.
Extra taps and clicks are not evil when you can manage the performance issue. On mobile we might want to rethink our aversion to additional steps. As long as each tap is a quality tap that keeps the scent of information strong, its not a wasted tap.
The most difficult thing is to take something complex and simplifying it. Yes, you’d like to eliminate steps to in order to make a process much more streamlined and quick, but you also have to make sure the user understands what is going on. If you’re building a checkout experience, you’d want to show confirmation of purchase at the end so users know the transaction completed successfully. You wouldn’t want to hide it because it’s an extra state that you don’t need. Even if you send an email confirmation, assume that users are only viewing your product and don’t have access to email.
I recently took a trip to Hawaii and while I was planning, I was thinking about the camera gear I wanted to bring with me. My typical bag for a trip consists of: 5DM2 body, 50mm f/1.4, and 17-40 f/4.
After hearing about BorrowLenses.com from some friends, I thought it would be worth a shot to rent a lens (35mm f/1.4) I’ve been wanting to use for years, but have never committed to saving up the funds to buy. I’ve seen great pictures come out of this lens from other owners and I had really wanted to take advantage of it for my trip to such a scenic destination. I went to the site, looked up the lens, added it to my cart, and quickly realized that I might want to take underwater photos too. So I added a small Canon PowerShot underwater camera as well.
A package arrived at my house with the lens and camera, individually bagged, securely encapsulated by packing sponge. This is the same box you would ship the contents back in for return. When I got back from the trip, I repackaged it, stuck on the pre-paid shipping label, and dropped it off at a local FedEx Kinkos.
The entire process from ordering to returning was extremely seamless. I was able to use a lens that I have been considering purchasing, for only ~$10/day, and an underwater camera for ~$5/day. It definitely helped me decide whether or not to go through with purchasing the lens, but also showed that if I ever needed a lens or other gear for a short period of time, I could just rent it and save myself a ton of money. These would be things I would consider using for rare shots, like a fisheye, tilt-shift, or supertelephoto.
The marketplace for peer-to-peer borrowing/renting items will become a booming area of commerce. Startups like Getable and Borrow will cover a wide variety of stuff. More niche companies like AirBnB and Getaround focus on specific verticals. In any case, the future looks bright for the try-before-you-buy-it type of consumer. If only the mobile app marketplace could do the same…
During today’s WP8 and Nokia Lumia announcement, a wireless charging feature was unveiled. And on top of that, a partnership with both Virgin Atlantic and The Coffee Bean (and more partners planned), where airport lounges and tabletops will implement wireless charging abilities for device owners.
If this works well in terms of infrastructure, feasibility, budget, and overall user-satisfaction, this might help to propel ubiquitous charging stations to appear in places we wouldn’t really think about. For example, The Coffee Bean will install plates in their tables so patrons would just set their phones on the table (something we all already do), and their device would start charging while you enjoy your coffee. When you pick up your phone and leave, you’ve just added x % battery life. It’s simple and if it works properly, the user shouldn’t expect anything, but be delighted when they see that their device suddenly has an increase in battery.
Imagine this becoming more widespread. Not only masking charging stations like within your car’s center console or in park benches at Disneyland (one of the many places where my battery tends to drain the most), but in other devices like laptops and cameras. No more scrambling around LAX terminals looking for power outlets or waiting in line for charging hub stations if each chair at the gate can provide some juice. I’ve tripped over a laptop cable or two in cafes before, and I’m pretty sure this could be some sort of fire hazard with cables running all over the place.
Companies like Mophie and Powermat (Duracell) are already helping push similar technologies out everywhere, but an announcement like this definitely helps the effort. Hopefully next week’s iPhone announcement will reveal similar technology, because like many out there, I wouldn’t mind trading for a fatter iPhone, as long as the battery life increases.