We are moving more and more into a “touchable” world and there are many different surfaces that can be interactive. They can be mini or big like a wall.
Defining the user experience depends a lot on the context and on the size. But while touching a wall pushes you to use all your body to find the balance and to be able to interact with the object, while you are using small devices is much more difficult to find the stability to do what you need to do. In this case, defining a correct target area is vital for an application.
Touch Gestures & Targets
Designing for touch screens means that you have to combine software ergonomics with the physical ergonomics, because the users will assume a certain position while interacting with your app through the device.
You can think to your users walking, stopped at a traffic light, travelling or just doing shopping.
You design for hands and fingers: think to their position and movement while consuming the app’s content.
Once you have defined your users’ profile, you can refine the number of the actions required to interact with your app, focusing on those to improve the usability.
For each interaction there should be an instant and visual feedback: never let the users wonder what is going on in your app.
The gestures’ library is already well known in the designer’s community and it’s quite
standardized, but for every system the question is: how to choose the right gesture?
The focus goes first to the content that you would like to make interactive, not to the type of gesture that you would like to apply to it. The first question is how would you like to explore this object? At this point you can apply the proper gesture.
As you can see, choosing the correct gesture to interact with content is becoming part of the information’s organization. For this reason, describing interaction in the scenarios and making a paper prototype to simulate the usage are useful steps to build the UI.
Defining a target area is another important interaction point.
Usually we think in term of “icon’s shape”. But this is not always evident, especially on the Windows Phone, due to the chrome cleaning, you have to think in terms of “object and shape”.
And this is can be a very useful exercise to clean your attitude and habit to think the target area in terms of control or icon’s space.
Don’t forget to use your experience and port it in your design. For example, if you decide to reduce the target size, you know that touching that space will be much more difficult especially if you put it near to other elements, also clickable.
And you already know that adding more space among the controls can solve this problem, because you experimented on yourself.
This can be the list of questions that you can ask yourself when you create a clickable object:
● What is its shape? How should users react to a rounded (or rectangular) shape?
● Where is it located into the context? How the user can locate it?
● What is its function?
● How often it will be used?
● How can you prevent user’s errors and how can you create a way to recover from
Answering to these questions means think how your users will interact with the application.
Will your users use the app while they are moving? Or sitting on a sofa? Look to the mistaps
especially for the application, like dialer, used while the users don’t have a stable touch.
Starting from my experience, here I talked about one single problem in designing small touch screen, because it is the most common one with which, as a designer, you have to deal every day.