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The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round

I remember as a kid singing the song “The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round” on those long bus rides up to summer camp. It was the adults’ secret weapon to pass the time and keep the kids out of trouble, I presume. It went something like this:

Well, the rest of the song is outside the scope of this book. But imagine if the song was describing today’s city bus commute instead. It might go something like this:

Figure 11-1. Forms can reduce the number of steps in a process by adding multiple selections, but they can also end up being dense and unusable. Many select lists, especially, confuse the paradigm and pull the selection mechanism out of the context as well as change the expected behavior.

The landscape of mobile use is defined by user-generated input. In his blog post titled “Data Monday: Input Matters on Mobile,” Luke Wroblewski points out the following:

As Wroblewski notes, the process of filling out fields and forms makes up a large part of our mobile experience, which is why it’s essential for UI designers to make interfaces capable of handling the way users input and submit information.

Slow Down, Teen Texters!

Take a moment and reflect on some of your most aggravating moments filling out fields or forms on a mobile device. Here is a common scenario that frustrates me:

First, I’m not a savvy texter. I’m amazed by the accuracy and rate at which some people, mainly teens I’ve seen, can engage in a text conversation at a supernatural rate. I’m embarrassed to text whenever I’m next to them. Though when I am forced to input text and characters in a field, such as an SMS, it’s very likely I’m going to make errors.

I constantly enter the wrong characters because my fingers extend past the target size. Positioning the cursor to edit my mistakes is even more maddening. I end up clearing the wrong part of the word or deleting everything I didn’t want to delete. The only reason I continue with these tasks, despite my buildup of dissatisfaction, is because many times a better UI is not available.

If these basic functions of inputting data fail due to an unusable interface, the user will likely not bother with the site or service. That’s a huge risk to take, considering the emerging trends users are engaged in with their mobile devices.

Input and Selection in the Mobile Space

Figure 11-2. Gestural interfaces can benefit from simulating physical objects, even for form selections. Make switches actually slide, and use thumbwheel-like spinners to replace short select lists.

For many of us, having to always type characters on a small mobile keyboard is a chal- lenging task. The process is quite error-prone and the keyboard takes a lot longer to use. Luckily, there are solutions we can implement in our designs that will offer a more valuable user experience with less frustration and loss of data.

Here are some recommended tactics to promote quicker, more efficient and less error-prone input:

Patterns for Input & Selection

Using input and selection functions appropriately provides users with methods to enter text and make selections within a list or field. In this chapter, we will discuss the following patterns:

Input Areas

Form Selections

Mechanical Style Controls

Clear Entry

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Input and Selection (last edited 2011-12-13 19:21:22 by shoobe01)