Designing for the Touch Age

When Apple first launched the iPhone in 2007, people thought that touch screens would never take on. 

Nearly a decade later, we’re living in a touch age. Whether you’re calling someone, responding to a customer query or simply watching a TV show, there’s a good chance, you are using a touch interface. 

So, how exactly do you design for touch interfaces? Apple and Google have both provided excellent resources on how to design for touch interfaces. 

Here are a few of our favorites:

1. While referenced primarily for apps, Apple provides a great statement in their iOS Human Interface Guidelines Document that should apply to every digital interaction:

“Aesthetic integrity doesn’t measure the beauty of an app’s artwork or characterize its style; rather, it represents how well an app’s appearance and behavior integrates with its function to send a coherent message.”

There are far too many options on a daily basis. Options about everyday life, such as food, drinks and restaurants. Options about work, such as companies, positions and locations. Options about clothing, phones, computers, cameras, etc. However, none of these options can stand out in the face of incoherent and incomplete messaging. A strong design communicates not just aesthetics, but emotions as well. 

2. Size matters: We’ve gone from a generation of mouse clicks to taps. And unlike the previous generation, the size of what we engage with has become larger as well. Most sites, buttons and apps now need to be designed carefully accommodate small hands and big fingers without frustration. It is best practice to keep this particular requirement in mind to ensure that users are able to interact easily and seamlessly while tapping away. 

3. Speed: Impatience is a determent for everyone – the business owner trying to be overly pushy and the user who is anxious to make a purchase. While creating sites with high-res imagery is a great idea and drives the aesthetic value of the site, it also negatively impacts the loading speed of a page. Although mobile network speeds have increased drastically over the past few years, they are still largely unreliable. So, the smaller the image size, the faster the path to checkout. 

The mobile revolution is just beginning and consumer behavior is changing with it. The goal is to reduce friction between discovery and purchase.