Tag Archives: mobile


Touch target

Word: Touch target

Definition: The UI element or object on a touch screen that a user is expected to interact with for the purpose of completing a task.

Thoughts: Target areas should not be taken lightly because usability should always be top of mind. Nothing is more frustrating for a user than a button she has to tap over and over again because it isn’t responding to her touch.

Target areas should be large enough for a finger to tap it in one try. If you’re unsure (and even if you are sure that matter) here’s some free advice… do some usability testing!

For an example of what not to do, let’s take a look at the new iOS Podcasts app update. I don’t know about you, but the play button is the most important element I need to access here. So I’d love to know what Apple designers were thinking when they put this TEENY TINY touch target in the bottom corner. I don’t like to play hide and seek with my apps thank you very much.

This touch target is directly above the app navigation (across the bottom) as well. I can’t tell you how many times I tapped the “unplayed” item instead of the play button. See the irony here? I wouldn’t have any unplayed podcasts if I was actually able to tap the play button with ease! Sheesh! End rant.

podcast app



Word: Mobile-centrism

Definition: Dependance on and around mobile devices in a way that goes beyond sheer usage and into lifestyle and activity penetration.

Thoughts: This word was first brought to my attention in the Smashing Magazine article about mobile use in China. In China, as of June 2014, more people accessed the internet via mobile than via PC. This growth has led designers to move beyond “mobile-first” and into the mindset of “mobile-only”, bypassing desktop and relegating it to an afterthought.

In China, the mobile-centrism is so strong that a user’s cell phone number can be equated to the value of a US social security number with people using their mobile numbers for everything from digital wallets, to proof of ID, to login-in credentials.

While China is leading the way in mobile access and centrism, the US has seen its own uptick in lifestyle infiltration, particularly when it comes to e-commerce. Mobile payments and mobile wallets are likely to only get stronger and more widespread in the coming years.

As UX designers we know the power and prevalence of mobile and it’s exciting to think about how this saturation will further penetrate lifestyle.

Question: Can you foresee the rest of world catching up with China’s current mobile practices in the near future? If not, what might happen if the rest of the world does not follow suit?


One Eyeball, One Thumb

Word: One eyeball, one thumb

Definition: A way to illustrate mobile usage patterns. The idea being that most mobile users tend to operate their devices with one hand while only partially paying attention.

Reference: The phrase was created by Luke Wroblewski in his book Mobile FirstIn the book Wroblewski writes,

“Thinking ‘one eyeball, one thumb’ forces you to simplify mobile designs so they can be understood and used in these kinds of situations.”

Thoughts: A study in 2013 demonstrated that 75% of smartphone users still operate mobile devices with one hand (be that holding it with one hand or cradling it). It is also understood that many smartphone users do not give the device their full attention all the time. How often do you use your phone while watching TV, commuting, or even eating dinner?

The “one eyeball, one thumb” notion is a great way to keep designers honest and always thinking about how their work will be consumed and utilized.

Question: How, if at all, will the rise of larger screens (phablets) change the game?


Mobile-First Design

Word:  Mobile-First

Definition: The practice of designing for the smallest screen first  and then expanding the design out to larger platforms later.

Reference: The term is most often associated with mobile designer Luke Wroblewski. (He even wrote a book on the topic.) The now widely accepted tactic not only helps the designer understand the constraints of her content on a smaller screen but it also helps “trim the fat” in order to focus on the most important elements. Think about it… do you really want 10 navigation items down your entire phone screen or can you live with 5 or 6 instead? It’s great to think about these things as early in the process as possible. As a bonus, the more “fat-trimming” you do for the mobile experience, the more precise and lean your tablet and web experiences will be!

Thoughts/Questions: How will wearables affect mobile-first design thinking? Will there ever be a day when we design “wearable-first”?