The technology landscape is changing, as we well know, and as developers and designers we have to accommodate a multitude of ways our customers and employees interact with our data and information. Between desktops, laptops, tablets, “slates”, and the myriad of phones available, design for “touch” – or even better: interactions – should be at the core of our thinking when producing incredible, useful experiences for our audiences.
When designing these new user-interfaces and developing the technology that enables them, there are a few core fundamentals to consider along the way.
Delight: a design imperative
The first goal is to delight your users. How does your site or application make the user smile? Does it not only meet, but exceed their expectations? And does it accomplish that with beauty and in an unexpected way? In the past great applications just had to do the job at hand (function), but today, the bar is higher and developers need to engage their users. We can thank the explosion of consumer apps for this trend, but there is no denying the emphasis on design in next generation applications.
Grids: the convergence of art and science
Consider the screens and/or environment for which you’re developing/designing. Grid structures are a wonderful and super-helpful way to structure your design and make it available cross-platform, cross-device. Many of you have more than mastered the art of designing with structure, afterall, what is a database if not a structured way to present data? When you think of your visual design elements – from navigation to graphics– you should apply the same logic. Grids help you to create visual balance & harmony and deliver scalable solutions that easily scale across form factors (devices). Designing to a grid takes discipline, but will pay off in spades once you master it.
Intent: it’s not an accident
What are you asking your users to do? Are your users wanting to enter deep data, interact with multiple forms and constructs? Or, on the other hand, perhaps your users are using your application or website to simply consume data – read stories, check updates, or contribute and share social experiences like Facebook or YouTube.
It’s these very different types of interactions that require us as designers and developers to understand the intentions of our audience and also understand those intentions under various circumstances. If a user is at a desk, that’s very different than sitting on the couch next to their 5-year-old while watching a movie or children’s program. Before we ever begin the application development we must not only understand what the user will do, but the context they will do it in and the headspace they will occupy while they do it. Design should reflect the way you want users to engage with the application and the spirit by which they will do it.
Interactivity: touch me baby
When we’re considering these intentions and various environments, as well as devices, we have to consider the interactions that are natural to the user in these situations. Active buttons in the middle of a page may be appropriate for a web-based User Interface, but holding a tablet (iPad) with one hand and poking at the middle of the screen with your finger is frustrating at best.
When considering interactivity, we should also look at the wide array of methods we can now employ to use our applications and sites.
Use hover to trigger drop-down navigation or other interactivity? Think again. There’s no hover with touch interfaces … yet.
Consider: Touch, long-touch, pinch, spread, rotate, swipe, and the multitudes of other interactions that have been baked into the various platform Design Guidelines.
There are many examples and posts by designers and developers around these subjects. However, what we need to do using DevExpress tools is consider these ideas – and many more, forthcoming -- in how we employ the DevExpress tools we use to create well-designed, intentional, interactive experiences that delight our users, customers, and ourselves. I welcome your comments and thoughts on how we can create tools to help you develop and design incredible experiences for your customers and make development more efficient, fast, and well-designed.