Usability on the Touchweb


I’ve been working on redesigning my site, starting with the mobile aspect first and it’s an interesting exercise to go through. The first thing I considered was how navigation works. When I use my iPhone, I don’t necessarily want to use two hands to navigate. I usually have it in my right hand and use my thumb to navigate; turning it horizontally for data entry. This means that if you have navigation elements on the top of the screen, people have to reach all the way across the screen to use the navigation. (My opposable thumb just isn’t as opposable as it used to be as evidenced by the fact that when I try to unlock my iPhone my thumb gets in the way of itself as I pull the slider to the right. It should be vertical and not tied to the very corner of the device.) Over the years usability has evolved so that navigation is usually horizontal or left justified across the top of the screen. This is mainly due to the way westerners read content and the mouse makes it easy to get to. With the Touchweb, there is no mouse. Navigation needs to be focused on the bottom right or left corner (if your left handed) since it’s closest to the users hand/thumb. (I’ve also noticed that button size especially height is important. For iPhone users, think of clicking on the “new meeting notification” button in the calendar. Almost impossible to get the first OR the fifth time.)

Most mobile sites are simply a stripped down version of their main site, but depending on your business model, this may not be the best idea. What do you want your target audience to use the site for? Mobile behavior is decidedly different from standard Internet behavior. Mobile is more task focused and more personal. How does that play into your business model?

As I design my site I wanted to make the site easy to use and focused on 4 things:

  • My posts and sharing them
  • Allowing people to find content they had read on my site
  • Contacting me
  • Telling people who I am

This list is smaller than what I want out of my main site and is a result of the nature of mobile and what I believe is most important to those that will use it. I will of course be requesting feedback from users to make the site better. I’ve posted the most recent version of my clickable wireframes here. I created these with Axure which is an amazing tool. (Product demo here.) You should buy it. It’s good for you! Please take a look and let me know what you think.

(Note: If you’re not used to looking at clickable wireframes, it can seem a little “naked”. They are used to map out functionality and visual structure. They are not the same as mock-ups and have nothing to do with look and feel. It’s best to think of them as a blueprint for a house.)