Three (only?) justifications for mobile apps

There’s a reason why they (Apps) are popular on mobile:

  • they are highly contextual and
  • take big advantage of the phones main functionalities, be it geolocation, camera or just voice and sound.
  • They are also aimed at repeated use in small chunks of time.

Jean-Baptiste Coger: Why you shouldn’t bother creating a mobile app.

Micro Moments

Early in 2015, Google released a set of articles on what they call “micro-moments”. (…)

I-want-to-know moments

You’re at home with a nice free evening. What shall you do now? Ah! You feel like watching something. So, you want to get to the position where you can choose which movie to watch. You want to know the answer more than anything! So, you’ve just gone online to see. Here, you’re thinking with “the Google initiative”—that is, you’re searching or browsing to find out what’s hot, perhaps seeing what’s not-so-hot as you go down the reviews. You want to know which movie would be the best fit tonight.

I-want-to-go moments

You’ve decided on seeing the latest action blockbuster movie, but where? This is when you want to see what’s “Near me”.

I-want-to-do moments

You may want to learn about a process, service, or product. If you’ve ever gone on YouTube to see what others say about products, or just wanted to see how to do a job (e.g., DIY); that is where to learn. If your motorcycle won’t start and you “sort of” know what’s wrong, YouTube can show what you need. We’ll worry about which company’s motorcycle part in the next micro-moment!

I-want-to-buy moments

Your “final micro-moment” might have you start by watching any of over 1 million YouTube videos as you zero-in on which motorcycle part is the most reliable/best value before making the buy. If we’ve gone to the movie theater, maybe a friend shows us the trailer of another movie. Finding it better, you’re “sold” on seeing that instead. Congratulations, you’ve completed the process.


From: Muriel Garreta Domingo: Micro-moments: Are you designing for them?

Mobile User Experience

    Users are seeking urgent information on their mobile device that is ofte related to location or activity, mosthly through search engines and recommendation sites like Yelp or oursquare
    Users are seekimg recurring realtime information, such as stock quotes, sport scores and auction listings.
    Users are seeking distraction, entertainment or connection through a mobile device on services like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, or in their email.

From Mobify

Designing with context

Great article by Cennydd Bowles describing the seven flavours of context:

Device context

  • What devices will this product be used on?
  • How about in a year’s time? Three? Five?
  • What can those devices do? What can’t they do?
  • What sort of interactions do these devices suit?
  • Are there unique device capabilities we can use to our advantage?
  • How does our site work on devices that don’t have those capabilities?
  • Are there device capabilities that might make life more difficult? How can we mitigate their impacts?

Environmental context

  • Will the site be used indoors or outdoors?
  • Should weather conditions affect my design?
  • What environmental information sources are relevant to the interaction?
  • Will a user understand why, and how, my system is adapting to the environment?
  • How can I make my product feel natural within its environment?

Activity context

  • Do users have simple tasks to fulfil, or a more complex network of activities?
  • Are these activities or tasks digital, or do they support real-world activities?
  • Does the current activity have a physical component? How can we support that?
  • Are the interactions likely to be lean-forward, lean-back, or both?

Individual context

  • Can we use any stated preferences to tailor the system to an individual user?
  • Is it appropriate to let users explicitly state preferences for this interaction?
  • What sort of emotional connection will users have with our site, and the devices they access it from?
  • What mental attitudes do users bring to the interaction?

Location context

  • Do users have location-specific needs?
  • Will access to the user’s location improve the service my app can offer?
  • How can I best communicate why a user should grant location access?
  • Can I present location information in a more human-friendly format than long/lat?
  • How can I be sure my location assumptions are accurate?

Social context

  • Will the app be used in solo, private contexts, or in public?
  • Are there ways to reduce any risk of embarrassment or public discomfort for the user?
  • Who else is involved in this activity other than the end user?
  • Is there benefit in asking the user to authorise my app with their social networks?
  • Does my app protect the user’s sensitive information with sufficient care?


Context design principles

  • Context is multi-faceted.
  • Don’t penalise people for their contexts.
  • Assume gently.
  • Allow adaptability.
  • Revisit your decisions.

Designing for speed

  • Mobile experiences fill the gaps while we wait. Nobody wants to wait while they wait. Mobile needs to be fast.
  • To make things on mobile feel really fast you need to invest in back-end and front-end design –in design and engineering. Design can be a speed feature.
  • Upload is what got people most excited about the speed of Instagram early on. Most apps upload only after they have all the info they need. Instagram uploads right away while you fill in the rest of the information about your photo like captions and location. This is a non-optimal engineering solution but it makes the app feel much faster. It’s worth it even if you throw the photo away.

Mike Krieger of Instagram at the Warm Gun, quoted by L Wroblewslki

Gestures in iOS

  • Tap – To select a control or item (analogous to single mouse click)
  • Drag – To scroll or pan (controlled; any direction; slow speed)
  • Flick – To scroll or pan quickly (less controlled; directional; faster speed
  • Swipe – Used in a table-view row to reveal the Delete button
  • Double Tap – To zoom in and center a block of content or an image; To zoom out (if already zoomed in)
  • Pinch Open – To zoom in
  • Pinch Close – To zoom out
  • Touch and Hold – In editable text, to display a magnified view for cursor positioning; also used to cut/copy/paste, and select text.

Ginsburg 2011, p.22

Apps vs Web sites

  • Apps need an appstore, websites do not.
  • Apps can make money pretty quickly, websites not so.
  • Apps have great UX, websites not so.
  • Apps have to be downloaded, websites work right away.
  • Apps need to be updated manually, websites can be updates as much as you want without having to bug the user.
  • Apps are about doing things, websites are about reference.
  • Apps have great word-of-mouth, websites not so.
  • Apps can speak with each other, websites not.
  • Developing an app is a pain, building a website is not; in fact, prototyping a mobile website is a breeze.

Josh Clark: Mobile web vs Native Apps summarised by Johnny Holland

Tab bar

‘As these examples illustrate, tab-bar navigation is ideal for letting the user choose among modes of operation tailored to specific features, information, or even states of mind (“I can’t think of a restaurant, pick one for me”). A tab bar summarizes what your app does; it’s a series of miniature advertisements for how the app can help. Tab bars make for efficient navigation, since they take people directly to specfic screens to perform specific actions, but they require careful planning by the designer. The tab bar should offer a set of options that match up neatly to specific and common missions your audience has in mind when they launch your app.’

Clark 2010, p.108

Slight confusion of tab bar and toolbar!