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  • March 11, 2012

SXSW Recap: Tapworthy Touchscreen Design


With more and more people using smartphones and
interacting with apps, the principles of app design are incredibly relevant to
the way we think about designing for the web and email. People are learning to
interact with content in new ways, creating tons of opportunity to define new
ways of interacting with content on devices.

I really appreciated the session led by Josh
Clark of Global Moxie (@globalmoxie) about Tapworthy Touchscreen Design at SXSW 2012.  My email bias made me immediately perk up
when his first example was an email in the iPad inbox. As email marketers, we sometimes forget to
consider the place the message is being read and that we can take hints from
User Interface elements in the inbox when planning our layouts for our
messages. In this case, Clark was explaining how the back button was incredibly
far away from where his hand was while he was scrolling through his email.

The further away and smaller the button is it
increases the cognitive energy it takes to find it and click on it, thus
decreasing the chances the user will take action.

In email, we can play this to our advantage. We
have tons of research on how people read email (primarily in an S-curve,
starting on the top left and zig-zagging through the layout), we can also be
smart about the way we design the layout and place buttons in places we know
the subscriber will already be looking.

There are three main take ways from this
session that relate to the email industry:

Let Users Be Lazy

It's our job to make it as easy as possible for
the user to take action by giving them visual cues of what we want them to do.
It's important for us to spend time thinking and understanding the impact of
when, and where, our customers are looking at our content and think about how
our layout can play into where they are already looking, scrolling or clicking.

Buttons are hacks

When we think about why buttons were created,
they were meant to be a solution to link together pages of content. We have
very different options now that screens have higher resolution, pages can be
any size, and new devices have created different ways to represent information.
Let the users interact directly with the content as much possible.

Design Interactions They Understand

I read this great article
on The
Condescending UI
a few months back that pointed out how users don't need
literal physical objects to understand how to use a site, app or content.
However, if it resembles their experience on the desktop they are more likely
to use it the way we've intended. We can train users by using conventions they
already understand and building upon them.

Here's a link to read it in
the words of the attendees:


Download the slides here:



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