Thoughts on mobile UX

We recently held a #CitrixDesign summit on mobile design, featuring Hugh Dubberly as our guest speaker to kick things off, with his talk on Service Design Principles. Hugh’s talk superbly and profoundly laid the ground work for our day-long discussion around what exactly constitutes “Mobile” ecosystems of software and service…as well as the future of interaction, going deeper into multitouch and gestural interaction. Here are some of the key points raised:

  • What is Mobility? Not a precise definition (which inflames silly arguments) but shaping out the contours of what it means to “be mobile” and to “design for mobile”. Is there is a shift from device-centric attitudes towards lifestyle-based approaches, where “Mobile” refers to an evolving set of behaviors, expectations, cultural norms? So how does this impact interface design across device types and screen forms? Is there an emerging “mobile vernacular” surrounding the flow of information, delivery of services and lifestyle patterns? Hmm!
  • Mobile “cross of pain”. Riffing on the popular cross diagrams from Richard Buchanan at CMU back in the day, we discussed the intersection of four particular touchpoints for mobile design: a) People (their expectations, attitudes, and generational factors too) b) Activity & Contexts (which shape what is relevant, salient, useful, etc.) c) Interfaces & Devices (what are the modes and means of interaction at the pixel/sensor/material level of mobile) and finally d) Systems & Services (the overarching connections to form the ecosystem, how they support human purposes in an integrated, holistic manner)
  • Mobile as extension of natural self/abilities. A profound yet basic viewpoint emerged, that of the device and “mobile” in general as being something that amplifies our daily normal actions. Think of the sensors, apps, camera, voice inputs and so forth as ways to extend whatever we are trying to do (contact someone, get directions, record a moment, remind yourself, etc.). The mobile condition is ongoing, per our bodies being on the go in different spaces/places. The mobile device/software/ecosystem should reflect that dynamic, and is a personalized way to achieve our self-directed goals accordingly.
  • Continuous, seamless, fluid experience. Many have seen this slick NFL Network commercial, with a football player enjoying a single game across changing contexts, with a single mutating device. It’s all one single seamless experience, regardless of device or scene and feels fluid, not disconnected or episodic. That’s one of the ultimate aspirations for a mobile experience to achieve and deliver. Lofty goal but doable!

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