Feb 15, 2013

Designing for Touch & Gesture: Tips for Apps and the Web (Updated)

In the past, our fingers did the walking, sifting through files, papers, pamphlets, and phonebooks, and then by point-click-clicking with a mouse to interact with images and text, in essence, electronic imitations of the paper-based world. Traditional forms, brochures, ad inserts, and posters informed much of the design. 

How much have things change?   It is 2013, but you'd think it was 1997 from the PowerPoint look and feel of many apps and web sites!   Touch is everywhere, but from what I can tell, not enough designers and developers have stepped up to the plate to think more deeply about ways their applications can support human endeavors though touch and gesture interactions.  

For an overview of this topic, take a look at my 2011 post, written after a number of ugly encounters with user-unfriendly applications:  Why bother switching from GUI to NUI?  

For an in-depth look into the history of multi-touch, the wisdom of Bill Buxton is well-worth absorbing.  He's worked with all sorts of interfaces, and has been curating the history of multi-touch and gesture systems since 2007:

Multi-Touch Systems that I have Known and Loved
Bill Buxton, Microsoft Research, Updated 8/30/12

Even if you are not a designer or developer, I encourage you to explore some of the links below:

Touch Gestures for Application Design
Luke Wroblewski, 10/9/12

Common Misconceptions About Touch
Steven Hoober, 3/18/13

Designing With Tablets in Mind:  Six Tips to Remember
Connor Turnbull, Webdesign tuts+, 9/27/11

Finger-Friendly Design: IDeal Mobile Touchscreen Target Sizes
Anthony T, Smashing Magazine, 2/21/12

Best Practices: Designing Touch Tablet Experiences for Preschoolers (pdf)
Sesame Street Workshop

Are Touch Screens Accessible?
AcessIT, National center on Accessible Information Technology in Education

iOS Human Interface Guidelines

Android User Interface Guidelines
Using Touch Gestures
Handling Multi-Touch Gestures

Designing for Tablets?  We're Here to Help!
Roman Nurik, Android Developers Blog 11/26/12

Touch interaction design (Windows Store apps)
Microsoft - MSDN

Multi-Touch Systems that I have Known and Loved
Bill Buxton, Microsoft Research, Updated 8/30/12

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