While the traditional “mouse and cursor” interfaces are still in use, many of us are becoming familiar with touch-based interactions. The power and capabilities of mobile and tablet devices are growing. Often, these devices are the more convenient alternative for users to access your content. But beyond accessing your information, how are they interacting with your design?
Josh Clark, the author of Tapworthy, offers the notion that buttons are a hack. Touchscreen devices allow users to manipulate content with more than just their index finger. Multi-touch gestures can be used in many apps, in some case as the equivalent of keyboard shortcuts on the desktop. It’s a great way to create a fluid and deeply engaging interface.
The problem? Gestures are invisible. This leads to discoverability problems because it’s not clear what a certain gesture accomplishes, and they’re not the same in every app. Because there is no pattern library for gestures, it takes something like word of mouth for a gesture to catch on, such as the “pull down to refresh” gesture.
Josh shares his thoughts on designing for touch with Jared Spool in this podcast. And if you need more from Josh, you won’t want to miss his January 12, 2012 virtual seminar, Buttons are a Hack: The New Rules of Designing for Touch.