Sunday, December 2, 2012

Device UX should define Web UX

For general parts like transitions, navigation menus, shopping carts and search, web experience should be defined by device OS, not web designers. This would give users better experiences and allow web designers to use their budgets more wisely.

Designing websites gets harder and harder

Problem 1: There's always more devices, operating systems, use contexts, browser versions etc.
Problem 2: For many designers, there is not enough budget or time to design and test websites properly with all those different devices in mind. 
Observation 1: We and our clients want web experiences to be perfect for any device.
Observation 2: In every project, designers redesign common elements like main navigation. Not enough attention is given to the actual meaningful thing – content.

We're stretching web designers and developers. They should support more devices than they know exist. Result is that nothing really get's tested properly and even worse: a huge number of devices people use every day haven't even been considered when designing web experiences. It's not "computer version and iPhone and you're done". Take a look at this post by Luke Wroblewski, not all devices are the same

Using web on mobile devices breaks the experience

"Oh great, swiping doesn't work." 

When users go from apps to web, why do we have to break the experience? Would anybody want this: when you drive a car, half-way to your destination the car starts functioning differently. Why then users would want to navigate in a certain way while using their device and then change how everything works because they opened just another app. The magical "doesn't work like my device" app is called browser and it breaks the experience. Let's face it: mobile web experiences are poor on most of the sites. If at all optimized for mobile use, they are an odd compromise and lack all the gestures that make using devices fun. Yet, the amount of people using mobile internet grows like crazy. These people deserve excellent web experiences. We're not delivering. – open for testing your site. It's not only iPhone you need to worry about. Photo by Viljami Salminen

Responsive web design is a good start. We're trying to tackle the issue but we need more. We need different content for different use contexts. We need lightweight versions. We need optimized design for every device that uses Internet. Also, anybody who has used web with a mobile device knows that opening navigation elements is slow. What if websites worked the same way on your device than apps do? This way the mobile web experience would require less waiting for web elements to load.

Device OS Designers should (help) define web experiences

The idea is plain and simple: Device designers spend so much time working on product design and OS design. Why don't they define the way to use the Internet for that device as well? I'm talking about shifting some work from web design people over to device design people. Let's think about this for a minute: 

What would happen to mobile online sales if somehow all the shopping carts were super easy and fast to use? How much sales is now lost because of shopping with mobile device is difficult, annoying and slow? 

If the device offers a search function, why on earth wouldn't we use that very same UI for searching on the site? 

I love interaction design work but I'd be very happy if I could just write a sitemap XML file and know that all devices will optimize main navigation flows for best possible way.

Currently we're reinventing the wheel every time when we design a new website! That's time wasted. Users want the content. Users don't need branded web navigations on their mobile phones that are less usable than the native device UI navigation. What I'm saying here is that if web people used their budget more on content and less on device specific tuning of general functions, the web would be a better place for everybody. We need to start focusing on the things that matter!

As we all know, mobile Internet usage is growing exponentially. Even though mobile web UX is mostly horrible. Web people need help from device UX designers or end-users will keeps suffering. I'm not saying we should prevent a way to build a web experience from scratch. And I'm definitely not saying web designers should ignore designing and testing for devices altogether. But if there was a chance the device could handle general parts of web experience, everybody would win and that would make a lot of sense.

So, Google, Apple, Samsung, Nokia, HTC and others. Can you create tools for giving users an awesome experience? What do you think?