Gadgets today are shaping our world. For example, we start our day with newspaper headlines. We may follow the same on T.V or radio. We dig deeper into the story on a news website; and we often have discussions with our colleagues on the same story. Thus, we consume and generate information across channels, devices and different touch points. The story keeps flowing between the physical and digital world, but our experience is not connected and somewhat restricted within the physical boundaries of devices. We need to start designing across boundaries concentrating more on the task, on or beyond devices. This is in contrast to the typical usage of a computing device, where the focus ends on the device and not on the task.
We use different connected devices at times, be it mobile or T.V. While consuming or generating information, we do not think about the channel, but about the kind of experiences – good or bad. Mark Weiser coined a term ‘Ubiquitous Computing’ in 1988, which described the post-desktop model of human computer interaction; we can start designing and implementing beyond just devices with displays. Technology is everywhere but integrated experiences are few and far between. There is a need for holistic experience design – four Cs listed below can be the starting point.
Design for consistency
Consistency in design means that a user can learn the features (visual as well as behavioral) and then employ them without much active thinking about them. It helps the user forget about the medium and instead helps in getting the task accomplished efficiently. Hence consistency should be carried across mediums in a way that works harmoniously with its counterparts in the connect network.
Design as if always connected
With gap between physical and digital blending, we need to consider the experience of transition between these. ‘Allrecipes’ is an example of a continuous ecosystem where one can search for recipes online using a desktop and add ingredients to the ‘shopping list’ there itself. While shopping, this list is accessible using a smartphone, the device most likely to be carried during grocery shopping at supermarkets.
Another example is Netflix. While watching a movie on Netflix, even if the medium is changed (say from T.V to tablet) the movie starts from the point where it was paused. The user is connected throughout and the experience is continuous.
Understanding the context helps design systems that anticipate use cases at the relevant time of use. Smartphones, tablets, laptops, and smart TVs simply provide different services in different contexts. These services are consumed by a variety of users and require different interaction. For example, when any address or phone number is shown on mobile, there is an option to ‘call’ with it. Now this option is provided keeping in mind the ability of the medium (mobile phone) to make a call. An option of ‘call’ on desktop is useless. Designing for context is about aligning the purpose of a product with the user’s requirements at any given time or in any given situation.
Design for convenience
Design for convenience would be designing for minimizing the cost, time, space and effort for the user. For example, most pictures shared on internet are clicked through mobile phone cameras because mobile phones now give the user the ability to click high quality pictures and upload them using the same device.
What are your thoughts on these? Please feel free to share your comments.