Originally posted on Truth & Robots on 7/18/09
Designing experiences for people sitting at their computer is no longer acceptable. As mobile has become a common method of accessing information it can no longer be assumed that people are accessing these experiences from their offices. The trend in the late 1990s of companies building websites as an alternate type of brochure is something to look back and laugh at. Especially when considering the capabilities of the interactive experiences available today. Even though many are laughing I see the resurrection of the trend today as mobile experiences become more prevalent. It seems that many web experiences are being duplicated for mobile devices. Should we assume that the expectations of the people visiting these mobile experiences are the same as when they are sitting at their desks? No. Of course not. Mobile experiences need to make a few educated assumptions about the reason someone would access the experience while away from their desk. These assumptions can allow for certain information to be pushed to the front whereas it might not be up front on a desktop based experience. Visiting the website for a chain of movie theaters can provide me with plenty of information. If I visit the site from my phone I think it would be fair to assume that I am likely most interested in locations and show times. It might also be valuable to display information based on my current location. Displaying the same marketing messages as are on the desktop site only frustrates me.
This brings to mind the complexities of designing for mobile. I think that designing for mobile is just the beginning. With the growth of the netbook market, the variety of mobile devices which can access the internet as well as the smart phones which offer mobile applications, the number of platforms available for interactive experiences are growing exponentially. The methods of interaction are only complicating the issue. Consider that touch interfaces, gestural navigation and motion detection are just the beginning. Creating experiences which are location aware, time aware and add in any type of social context and suddenly there is a lot to consider when creating these experiences. Designing for context is the real challenge. Meeting the needs of people where and when they are and meeting the needs of the device will become the new standard for interaction requirements.