Design the tap, the pinch and the swipe

My newly unpacked iPad2 is already teaching me a lot!  The first app that I put to use was the Autodesk SketchBook Pro. I started sketching with it immediately.

Designing for Tap, pinch, and swipeBeing both user and designer has some advantages but it also poses challenges. In this post, I’ll share some thoughts from two recent AIGA events that I attended.  My take away from these sessions is that the creative design community is actively exploring how best to tackle designing for mobile devices. We are in the midst of a transition.

Earlier this spring, AIGADC did a seminar at the Corcoran College of Art and Design called “Is There an App for that”? David Ramos,  Interactive Design Instructor at the Corcoran College of Art  suggested that learning “systems thinking” is essential.  In addition,  the other panelists,  Doug March of Living Social, Michael Yoch of NPS and Lee Given of AOL Mobile were consistent about one issue –  Everyone is still learning  how to develop for mobile devices. Even the most experienced developers are facing new complexities. By studying systems thinking, you are more able to adapt to changes.

Just this last Friday, I watched a Webinar from AIGA called, “DEVICES Everywhere”. The speakers were Michael Surtees of Gesture Theory and Ethan Eisman of Adobe.  The discussion was lead by Callie Neylan, an Assistant Professor of Design at UMBC (University of Maryland, Baltimore County).  There were a number of really good ideas in this Webinair but a few things stood out for me.

  • Designers today need to be technologists.
  • Designers  need to be highly skilled in multiple disciplines.

Traditional Graphic Skills are still important

Design Skills for mobile include:

  • Understanding Grid Systems
  • Typography

Skills in the following disciplines are also beneficial.

  • Interaction Design
  • Interface Design
  • Systems Thinking
  • Product Design
  • Computer Science

Rapid prototyping/Agile and some level of iterative seemed to be a preferred process for tackling the unique challenges of designing for mobile.

Some of their production tips included:

  • Design quickly
  • Set specific amounts of time for each task
  • Work tasks in parallel
  • When doing use cases studies set a specific time stamp on the tasks.

While designing it’s important to:

  • Understand context
  • Understand how interactions are used on each devices.

The discussion conclusion was that designing for mobile devices poses unique challenges and requires multiple perspectives.

What are the challenges that you’ve faced as you’ve been learning how to design and develop for mobile?

Thank you for your attention and have a good week!