Mobile. It’s kind of a bitch.
(Although, designing for a platform like iPhone makes it much better).
But here’s what I found to be the biggest problem : Sticking to a single concept
I work for a company that specializes in moving and manipulating large amounts of unique data. My gig is making sure that data is usable, understandable, and mashed up in a manner that end users find valuable.
So, I design products. Some people call them apps, some call them services, I consider them products. They are tangible things that people interact with, and get improved based on that interaction. They’re long term, not a feeble microsite.
Anyways, it seemed like a no-brainer to start moving some of these products to a mobile platform, as one of my main pushes this year is in the saving, sharing and moving of information off a primary site and onto where users feel they need to keep it.
In starting, I uncovered a continuum in design rationale…
On one end is the Encumbered Complexity. Things that are too large, too forked, too unwieldily to be useful on a mobile device. (Unfortunately, most of our primary products fit in this category).
On the other end is Useless Minutiae. Information and features that could be moved to a mobile device, and usually upon first glance, seem like a great idea, but are too detailed to be useful, or replace a real-world activity that doesn’t benefit from being digitized. (Usually, the ideas seem great because my company controls or manages all the data, and no one else could create this product).
So, I’m working in the sweet spot between the two of them, following three pure and simple approaches :
Mobile is one part of a larger experience, and should act in conjunction with other devices and products that are not mobile.
Any mobile product must provide useful content and features that have reason to be mobile… and “because we can” is not a reason.
Kick the Andrew “Ruthless Monk” Method up a notch. One thing at a time, a single Item=Response metaphor. Even more so than the internet, mobile is a conversation, and one that must be streamlined.
I’m showing off the first of 3 Automotive-based mobile products this month at our annual user conference in Savannah. I’ll share them once I’ve done the dog-and-pony.