Touch-navigation and other impending design changes suggest that, in the future, simple wins out over complex or flashy
San Diego, CA (PRWEB) May 23, 2013
Microsoft’s announcement that a smaller Windows touch device is in the works is fanning rumors about the pending release of a 7-inch version of its Surface tablet, designed to compete with similarly-sized devices from Apple and Google. Web designers face new challenges to accommodate a user’s experience of the small touchscreen device, as opposed to working on a desktop or laptop computer.
Web designers should anticipate that in the not-too-distant future, websites may only (or primarily) work with touch swipes, taps and gestures.
How does this affect navigation and other elements of web design? “Top navigation common to most websites is tricky to duplicate on a touchscreen device, particularly hybrid touchscreen/keyboard combinations like those found on the Surface tablet,” says Jeremy Durant, Business Principal at Bop Design, a San Diego web design agency.
Touch-Navigation Changes on the Horizon
Increasingly, mobile-friendly website designs place navigation to the left or right of the screen, or at the bottom for easier use. A link that jumps to the bottom of the page, for example, frees up space for important content elsewhere.
Other possible touch-navigation changes on the horizon:
- A triple-tap in the top corner displays menu-bar or site-map.
- A pinch gesture reloads the web page.
- A rotating gesture rotates page orientation.
- Instead of “Click here to continue,” instructions will read “Drag this icon to continue” or “Tap here for more info.”
According to a study by the MIT Touch Lab, the average thumbs size is roughly equivalent to 72 pixels in width, while the size of the average finger falls in a range between 42-57 pixels. “Designers should take note,” Durant advises. “No business wants visitors to its site inadvertently clicking on too many links at the same time, thus causing frustration and disengagement.”
Links on touchscreens should be clearly distinct from other graphic elements on the page. They should also be easy to identify with images that differ sharply from the background.
Simple is Better
As Durant notes, “Touch-navigation and other impending design changes suggest that, in the future, simple wins out over complex or flashy. The designer’s first priority must be: On a tablet, mobile device and/or desktop, how easy it is for the user to access important links? Color schemes, typeface and background imagery should take a back-seat to this essential element.”
When typography is being considered, the key is readability. People hold touchscreen devices at a different distance while browsing (and, of course, dimensions vary, too). Forcing users to zoom in to read content just adds another step to the process.
“The only way to know for sure that your touchscreen designs work is through rigorous user testing,” Durant says. “Consider professional testing services or add a link on your site so users can give you their feedback.”
If in fact universal touch navigation is just around the corner, design will focus on larger buttons and fewer hidden navigation elements. Now is a good time to plan ahead.
About Bop Design
Bop Design is a San Diego web design agency with offices also in the New York metro area. We
express a business values through branding, advertising, design and web design. We also help attract a firm's ideal customer through search engine optimization and search engine marketing. The marketing firm's focus is on small businesses that want an external team of marketing specialists to help give their brand an edge in the marketplace.