Size Matters. Mobile User Experience.

 Since I’ve been using a touch screen phone I realized something, the user experience in mobile devices is effectively surpassing that of the desktop, but why? Is it because of the multiple inputs/sensors attached to the device (e.g. accelerometer, GPS)? Is it because of the portability of the device (e.g. always available)? Or is it something else, something additional that pushes developers and designers to really do their best and, well, yes, keep things simple!

I honestly believe that the limited real state (screen) on mobile devices I what is pushing application developers to achieve real pieces of art. Take for example the Bing application for the Iphone (no I don’t have an Iphone but I got to say the app looks a lot cooler in that phone); the app is nothing rocket science but it take advantage of the screen beautifully with straight forward commands (buttons) and intuitive gestures to navigate around. The search results screen is simple, well organized and very easy to use without a lot of useless ads. Another example, the facebook application for Windows Mobile, very straight forward with the most common tasks (status updates, newsfeeds) just a couple of taps away; no useless ads (yet) and no bloated 3rd party apps popping up everywhere.

So yes, the trite saying “less is more” is what is really making mobile apps shine. With limited space available and “fat” input devices (like your fluffy finger J ) developers and designers really have to think hard on what are the most essential tasks his/her app needs to perform and leave any c*** out.

True, the fact that finally a somewhat standard input device (touch screen) is widely available in any modern phone really makes app developers’ life easier because they can now finally rely on basic assumptions (e.g. the user will have a way to “push” this button somehow) without having to program an explicit experience for every single phone button combination out there. However the fact remains, real state is limited so you better use it wisely.

You’ll see… the moment the screen size is no longer an issue (virtual projection and such) a bunch of interesting apps will start to surge but also a bunch of bad habits will come back and interfaces will be, once again, bloated. I hope I’m wrong.

Anyhow, for the time being, my hat off to mobile app developers and designers; keep apps right, keep them simple kept them fun J (who knows… I might be joining your ranks one of these days).