Design Tip #8 for Creating Multi-Touch Experiences - Design for Usability
Our eight installment of the series "10 Things You Need To Know When Creating Multi-Touch Experiences"
After years of enabling our customers to build interactive content, we've identified what we formally call "10 Things You Need To Know When Creating Multi-Touch Experiences". Informally, each tip represents an area of focus whose insight can make the difference between a successful and a failed deployment.
Design Tip #8 - Design for Usability
Your users should always feel in control. Aim for a design that is intuitive and - in its own unique way - familiar. If ever your user feels lost or doesn't know how to start over, you've lost them. (NOTE: This is different from accessibility - i.e. accommodating those possessing physical impairment. For information about how to address accessibility using IntuiFace, see this article.)
Use graphic-based instructions for anything but the simplest interaction
Multi-touch is great but assume anything beyond traditional iPhone-like gestures – drag to move, pinch/spread to resize – requires education. Use visuals to instruct users how to do something. (A picture is worth a thousand words.) And sure, you want to show off by creating a really funky interactive sequence, but who's going to understand it? Be realistic and respect your users' time.
Consider the use of breadcrumbs
If you’re building something comprised of steps, be visually clear about where the visitor is in that process and how to move both forward and backward. These "breadcrumbs" will keep your users grounded, comfortable because they know where they are, how to change their mind, how to progress. Feel free to be creative in how it looks, just don't sacrifice utility for artistry. Doesn't matter if it's pretty if no one knows how to use it or find it.
Always enable a way to get “home”
It should be obvious how one can start over or return to the start page. Don't be subtle or assume people will know they should tap your logo. It should be instantly obvious. This is just helpful for your users, it's good for you as it is important to distinguish between individuals when tracking interaction for analysis.
Provide visual (and optionally) auditory feedback for all actions.
This is for everything from a button press to a swipe gesture. Your visitor should never have to wonder if their actions have been recognized. Be honest, you hate not knowing yourself. Did I touch this button? Is something happening? Even a visual as simple as a shading change (see graphic below) can make all the difference.
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