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Wireless: Book Review

Essential Mobile Interaction Design

Perfecting Interface Design in Mobile Apps

Designing developing natural user interfaces for touch and gesture on mobile devices is not the same as web and desktop UI design and development. Mobile devices are used in different contexts, and bring different personas to the table. Having web and desktop UI design experience does not make you a qualified mobile UI designer.

Although it was much worse back in the Dot Com Boom days, I still see publication and commercial print designers trying to design web sites the way they design a magazine. A lot of them finally figured out web design is different, and we are now dealing with getting them to realize web and desktop UI design experience does not make you a qualified mobile UI designer.

This book is a great place for them to start. It is the book for the beginner to get started with mobile interaction design. It is perfect for designers, developers, architects, project managers, and testers migrating from web and desktop application development to start with mobile interaction design.

It starts with an introduction to mobile interaction and sets up the context that the book's topics live in. The authors start at the very beginning of the mobile timeline and explain how we got to where we are today.

Chapter 1. A Look at Mobile and Its Main Players
Chapter 2. Design for Humans, by Humans
Chapter 3. Dynamic Differences in Mobile Design
Chapter 4. First Sketches of an App
Chapter 5. Finding the Right Design Flow
Chapter 6. Designing for Visual Appeal
Chapter 7. Working with Programmers
Chapter 8. Making Apps Usable by All
Chapter 9. Designing for Simplicity
Chapter 10. Gaining Valuable Feedback
Chapter 11. Refreshing a Design
Appendix A. Standout Apps
Appendix B. Apps for Designers
Appendix C. Artwork Requirements for Android and iOS

This book does a great job of pointing out the basics. Some times they use sidebars like this one- "When building applications, enable operating system features such as text-to-voice, color blindness controls, and enhanced zoom modes to see how your on-screen interactions work with these features…"

Sometimes I felt they got a little too basic. Like with this sidebar for example- "Don’t confuse the term “interface chrome” with the Google Chrome browser. Interface chrome is somewhat common computer software design slang used to describe buttons of an interface.…"

I actually laughed at that one because I thought it was just a joke. The second half of the tip clued me in. It wasn't a joke.

One of the coolest things this book did for me was push me to try Balsamiq Mockups. I have seen the tool used before, but I have been using SketchFlow and Storyboards in PowerPoint.

When I am in an environment where users believe a prototype and production release are the same thing, I go to extra lengths to delineate the two. Tools that present mockups that look like they have been sketched really help to get the point across.

Realistic mockups send the message that the app has screens, buttons, and if the screen changes when you clicked on the buttons, it must be done and ready to go. Users don't understand that they are just screens for vetting the UI and not working application screens.

The authors have a way of bringing to light things that are subtle and sometimes not so obvious. An example of that would be sandboxes and the way your applications now run within them. When designing mobile applications this needs to be taken into account.

The authors have created a website and have a page dedicated to each chapter of the book. Each page contains all the resources that they point out throughout the chapter. It is a very convenient way to get to the resources that they talk about.

If you are expecting a book with a ton of screenshots explaining what was wrong with each one, and then providing a solution to the problem, look elsewhere. It does have a ton of examples, but this book covers topics in a way that makes you think about them.

The last thing I will say about the book is that it is current. In the brutal world of mobile that says a lot about the book. I don't know how many book I have received on the day it was published only throw it aside because it is no longer current.

I highly recommend this book for every role on a mobile project. Everyone should understand mobile integration design at the level presented in the book.


Essential Mobile Interaction Design: Perfecting Interface Design in Mobile Apps

Essential Mobile Interaction Design: Perfecting Interface Design in Mobile Apps

More Stories By Tad Anderson

Tad Anderson has been doing Software Architecture for 18 years and Enterprise Architecture for the past few.