Blog Series: How NOT to design NUI architecture

In our previous article in the series we discussed best practices for designing a natural user interface.  Now we’re going look at the pitfalls many face as they move from the traditional mouse/keyboard/monitor combo to an all-in-one NUI application.

There is really just one thing to remember when designing natural user interfaces: Do NOT duplicate your website on the touchscreen device.

Sounds simple, right?  Not so much.  This is the most frequent pitfall.  Here’s why.

  • Content: Your CEO wants the 3 page narrative on why Acme, Inc. is the greatest, most innovative company in the world on your kiosk or mobile website.  When users see a long blob of text on your mobile site they’re outta there.  If you have a touchscreen kiosk they’re not going to stand and read a 5 page document.  They came to your site on their tablet or smartphone to find quick info: a phone number or the opening times of a show, not to read your founding charter.
  • Interaction: Think variety when it comes to how your users will interact, giving multiple paths.  Allow multiple gestures to do one task. For example, use a button with an arrow to show/hide a portion of the screen but also allow a swipe to do the same.
  • Input device: Remember the input device is a hand or a finger that come in all shapes and sizes.  Sounds obvious but there are many mobile sites I use on my iPad and have to zoom in to click the exact link or button I want.
  • Alignment: When it comes to screen coverage, do not place labels under a control because it can accidentally be pressed by the user. Consider placing items at the bottom of the screen to avoid this mishap.
  • Equivalency: With all that said, there are situations where you want alignment with your website.  Your most frequently used and transactional navigation should mimic each other.  The airline desktop sites and mobile sites do a good job of this.  Their navigation mirrors on the common functions: booking, check in, flight status, schedules, and contact pages, but leaves out the non-essential pieces such as promoting their credit cards, job opportunities, or bios on the board of directors.
  • Bail Out: When it comes to mobile vs. desktop websites browser detection to determine which version to display isn’t perfect.  Always give visitors the ability to exit the mobile site for the full site and vice versa.

Join us next time for the final entry in the series: What’s new in natural user interface design.

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