It has been a while since my last post because I've been working on a few longer articles for publication and working with a new client. It has been an exciting time! Lots of new challenges. Lots of fun. And I've been exploring a different style of writing.
Usually I write about processes and systems: "how to" articles and ways to think and look at the world. I often write essays about my observations with facts to prove or disprove ideas. However, I recently worked on a thought leadership piece that started with a number of frustrating experiences using my iPhone.
I wrote about a vision I had for a mobile future.
Here is what I wrote: The Mobile Revolution: Reconstructing Familiar Interactions
It all started during dinner one evening. It was a particularly challenging episode of using weather apps on my phone, trying to track a storm in Dallas. While I was swiping and tapping, I started wondering what would make an ideal mobile experience? What if the app I was using displayed the charts and data I regularly used first on the page, rather than make me scroll to the middle of the page? What if there wasn't a carousel just below an area meant for swipe navigation? Would it make the phone easier to use?
In some ways, I find the iPhone to be a transition device. Let's face it - a phone basically took the keyboard and cursor onto a screen and the user still types or points at what they want. It's a familiar experience. And this helps us rethink what mobile should be. I wondered if we move out of what's familiar usability-wise to get to a truly mobile experience for a product?
We are including more functionality into mobile experiences, almost making them like desktop devices. I have found at times that apps have too many interactions too close together to work properly because we are almost trying to do too much with mobile. My fingers are just everywhere, tapping and swiping the wrong things because they are human sized fingers, and too much functionality onscreen requires smaller finger widths. Human fingers have a set size. There is no way to make it smaller. The solution we have today is to buy a bigger phone. I don't want to use a larger phone. I prefer a small phone. I'm short and have small hands. It's hard for me to stretch and reach across the iPhone 6.
I write a lot about Jef Raskin and the intuitive vs familiar. There isn't really much that is intuitive in the world. When we get an object and start using it, we are using paradigms that have been with us since childhood. Think about a lightswitch. We know how it works because we have been watching people flip it on and off since we were babies. This is often true with relationships as well - we may feel comfortable with someone because there is something about the interaction that we innately recognize as familiar. I'm not implying that there isn't a higher, spiritual knowledge - I do personally believe in that - but I am saying that we live in a world where thought patterns are presented to us daily, making certain ideas more common and therefore, more acceptable. Being uncomfortable isn't wrong - it's just not what we are used to.
If you apply this thought to our mobile devices, one could say that we know how to use them because they are leveraging a similar metaphor to what we do now. At first, the iPhone and iPad were rejected because they were different. Many users just didn't get them. But once people saw the patterns of familiarity, it made sense to use.
Now that we all pretty much have a phone, or rather computer, within reach, how do we bring it to the next level?
We need to enter the land of being unfamiliar.
I get into this in more detail in the article.
I feel hopeful that we'll use mobile technologies differently in the future, especially with the emergence of the micromoment from Google. We already are integrating mobile technology into our lives - pictures while we are out, sharing with friends, texting and calling. I think this will continue and we'll continue to use information in smaller chunks. It won't be so entertainment driven; it will be about more community and sharing.
Yes, I got all of that from a frustrating experience using my iPhone at a dinner, trying to track a storm in Dallas.
And it got me out of my shell to write about different things. I'm pretty proud of myself on this one. I'm growin'!