If nowadays a Web designer and developer must master the mobile milieu, as has been suggested frequently, then there is one desirable quality found in really sticky apps that must be understood.
This quality is an experiential quality, not a merely visual trend or fad. When you design for the webpage format, the scale and timing is quite different than for an app, which is at mobile speed, remember.
Webpages can be beautiful, or awe-inspiring and often highly interactive. But generally it is out there, as if on a movie screen. Indeed, these days it is fairly common for folks to pipe their laptop or desktop to the wall-mounted flat screen.
Mobile apps, in the palm of one’s hand, on the contrary are more intimate. We manipulate them and they are like toys. For this reason, mobile must be fun. This need not be a loud quality, but the element of play can be satisfied even at the level of navigation (where the design itself may seem to play around).
Even for serious or information-based apps a certain pop in the way things work will make the content more digestible. It all goes back to some kind of somatic need, perhaps, in which simple interactions of touch (which is the genius of mobile touch screens) generate instinctive interest.
Apple of One’s Eye
The obvious example is Apple’s revolutionary plunge into touch-screen technology for the masses with the iPhone. The yearly iterations of this ground-breaking device improved its ingenious tactile flourishes, like swiping, bounce-back effects, haptic feedback and the famous compass-driven screen flips.
All of that was great and highly addictive for the iPhone because it was fun; those new tropes were a way for one’s fingers and brain to play a bit, even when doing critical tasks or consuming serious information.
Lessons of Touch
So, go with that fun, obviously. If the app you are developing is play-oriented itself then you can really have a ball with tactile effects. Those touches, so to speak, should be geared to let users hear a special twang as they ‘play’ your mobile page or app.
Let screen transitions or buttons convey the personality of your theme and content, for example. Don’t settle for anything less than effects that pop, that are satisfying to touch, that thrill the fingertips and eyes as one, and so forth.
It’s a bit like a laugh-able joke. The mobile experience you offer should feel like a successful jest, a real gas — rather than one in which the humour was questionable and listeners are, as it were, belatedly ‘getting it’.
Convergence to the Fingertips
With Windows 8 moving desktop computing toward touch-screens, too, the mobile paradigm seems to be swallowing all of computing. To be more precise, we think it’s probably the tactile paradigm that is taking over.
Just like in the movies, or in military command centres, touchable screens of many sizes and shapes are getting installed throughout the world in which we live, right now. Along with that, comes our new tactile paradigm of design.
At the heart of the shift, even underlying the irresistibility of touch-screens, is the fact that touching computers is becoming as intuitive as (or it copies) the use of non-digital tools. That means that users will expect to feel impressed by haptic feedback from a mobile app, for example, similar to the way we’re impressed by the vibrations, sounds and behaviours of motorised machines.
One way to go about designing (or getting off to a good start with concepts) is to recognise that the mobile user could feel more influenced by the way the app acts in terms of playful touch sensations than by its verbal content or even images. That’s how powerful this quality of playful or fun touch is.
You Gotta Feel It
In closing, if you need more first-hand proof of these ideas then we suggest that you sample mobile media that demonstrate them in a strong way. For instance, play some mobile video games. Many of their details find ways into design trends.
Better yet, try some cutting edge casino apps that are new in 2014 here because there’s something very telling about interacting with an app that holds the fate of some amount of dosh. The design stakes are higher. As you feel a live roulette wheel rotating in your palm, or you shake your phone to place a sports bet, the truth of how vital accurate haptic feedback is in your mobile app’s design will hit you.