Aug 7, 2011

Usability of Touchable-Moveable Multimedia Content. Part I (carousels and more)

I've been revisiting the topic of interaction design/usability for "touchable/moveable" multimedia content for the past couple of weeks.    I recently got an iPad2, so I'm in the "app" exploration phase -  a new world, since I never had an iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad "1".  

I plan to share  experiences, thoughts, opinions, and suggestions related to this topic during the upcoming months.   I welcome input from IMT readers!

Getting back to my iPad2....In addition to using the device to run apps, like most people, I also use it to visit websites.  Many sites now appear to be optimized for mobile devices, which is great for my Android-based smartphone, but for my iPad, not so much.   I thought by now we'd have more touchy-feely content to play with.

I've noticed that  basic features that work OK with touch interaction, such as the carousel, 
seem to miss the target, as discussed in the following article:

5 Big Usability Designers Make on Carousels
Anthony, UX Movement, 8/2/11

Although the above article was written from a "click" rather than "touch" perspective, many of the comments Anthony brings up ring true for websites and apps that are accessed through tablets and other touch enable screens.

I'm disappointed.  Here are a few of my grumbles:

  • Many designers/developers have been slow to look at the increasing number of people who are accessing websites and applications via touch-enabled screens - of any size.   
  • Many designers/developers have been slow to catch on that a website or app might be viewed/used by more than one person at a time.  Websites for house-hunting, home furnishings, vacation/travel, and education are a few examples that come to mind.
  • Too many "multimedia" apps/websites are flat. Many still have a power-pointy feel.
  • Websites optimized for mobile devices often leave important features out.
  • Designers/developers sometimes don't seem to think about the various scenarios in which their applications/websites might be used - while balancing a baby on one hip, preparing a meal,  working out,  walking the dog, trotting around the mall with a friends/kids/spouse,  eating, waiting at a stop light, etc.

Too many iPad apps are flat and power-pointy. Too many apps don't take full advantage multi-touch features.  Very few apps allow for efficient interaction between two people on the screen.  

Carousel Design Patterns   I will add more related links in the future - not limited to carousels : )
Carousel Interaction #21 (Mike Highfield's Rapid eLearning Blog
Carousel (Interaction Patterns Wiki)
Carousel (Welie)
Mobile Implementation of a Web 3D Carousel with Touch Input
Bjorkskog, C., Jacucci, G., Lorentin, B., Gamberinit, L.

Photo Credit:  Ohad

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