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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Transmedia Design for 3 Screens - Make That 5 (Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox) - Excerpt

"...Transmedia User Experience

Most companies will probably deploy only 2 UI designs: mobile and desktop. Others might need 3, 4, or even all 5, depending on their industry. Whatever the number, there are two key points to remember:
  • Create separate and distinct UI designs for device categories that are sufficiently different. It's okay to have a similar design for, say, iOS and Android, with only a few modifications to suit each platform vendor's human interface guidelines. But your mobile sites and full desktop sites must be different, just as your mobile and desktop applications should be different.
  • Retain the feel of a product family across devices, despite the different UIs and different feature sets. This requires a transmedia design strategy.
Our experience with transmedia usability is not yet sufficient to provide an exhaustive list of guidelines for achieving a cohesive user experience across platforms. But we do know that it's essential to get the following 4 issues right:
  • Visual continuity. Obviously, UIs will look different on different screen sizes but they should look similar enough to feel like two sides of the same coin. No, it's not enough to have the same logo or the same color scheme. The interactive elements also must have a similar look. Layouts will clearly differ, but users should still feel confident where to locate stuff as they move between platforms.
  • Feature continuity. The smaller the device, the smaller the feature set you can comfortably provide. However, users should still feel that the same main features are available in all locations. Even more important, they should feel that the features work consistently, even if they've been simplified. Let's say, for example, that your e-commerce site offers product ratings. Both your mobile and full sites should use the same rating scale, but maybe your mobile site doesn't let users enter new reviews or doesn't show the full text of existing reviews by default. Designed correctly, however, users will still feel that they get the benefit of the full site's reviews while using the mobile site.
  • Data continuity. The user's data should be the same in all locations. Because of different feature sets, some data might not be available everywhere, but anything accessible in multiple places should be the same. Users shouldn't have to "synch" as a separate action.
  • Content continuity. We know that you must write much more concisely for mobile than for desktop use. But the basic content strategy should be the same; in particular, you should use a similar tone of voice for all platforms, so that you "sound" the same everywhere. For example, children love characters in Web design. If you use them, your mobile site might not have room for all the creatures, but should include the lead characters from the full site. (This will also promote visual continuity: the characters should look basically the same, even when drawn with fewer pixels. For that matter, character reuse also promotes feature continuity to the extent that navigation is based around the characters.)
To conclude: cross-platform UIs should be different but similar.

Learn More

More on visual continuity in the full-day Visual Design for Mobile Devices and Tabletstraining course on Visual Design for Mobile Devices and Tablets at the annual Usability Week conference".

The full-day training course Mobile User Experience 1: Usability of Websites and Apps on Mobile Devices discusses how to allocate features between the full desktop site and a mobile design, and the course on Writing for Mobile Users covers content style.

Posted via email from Siobhan O'Flynn's 1001 Tales

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