Click here to buy from Amazon.Another way to think about patterns is that they are simply all the heuristics available, shoved together and placed into a form where you can simply look at the end result. In many ways, that is how this book was created. For years, we have been collecting implementations, trying to tease out behaviors and patterns, and gathering them up. In other formats, and at conferences, we’ve been distributing these to the mobile design community.

And when we went to write a book on them, we had a pretty good handle on the catego- ries of information that had to be created, and the patterns that would occupy each one. And then almost immediately we ran into trouble. At this level of detail, gut checks and common practice and simply knowing how it works was not good enough. So we did research. A lot of it was simply observing devices.

Figure P-5. A selection of the devices surveyed to discover, confirm, and understand the patterns that ended up in this book. This is just a small sampling. Add another 30 or more handsets, 10 tablets, 10 eReaders, numerous game controllers and portable game units, a handful of GPS navigation devices, and many others to the list. These devices are not just for show; many work, and are readily available to refer to during design (and when we were writing this book). Many have Velcro on the back, and are stuck to the wall of the design studio, to be in our faces every day when we come to work.

Many are those we gathered over time, but we also acquired new ones, and asked people we know, work with, met at parties, or ran into at conferences to let us see their devices. We hit up stores when new devices came out. We noticed, and took photos of, the way PIN pads and kiosks work. We skulked around electronics recyclers to get old devices on the cheap and begged friends to let us have their dusty old phones. Figure P-5 shows a sample of these devices.

And then we compared the implementations. In many cases, the all-new, super-cool best practice was just a very minor change (or no change at all) to something on a 10-year-old PDA, or on many feature phones. In all too many cases, the newest technologies had lost common and best practices from the well-established methods of scroll-and-select devices.

We engaged with the users, too, in any environment. Whether at an airport, in a coffee shop, on a busy street, in the office, or in our family room, we recorded behavior. We ob- served these individual, social, and cultural interactions in varying contexts, paying close attention to how people use these devices in their everyday lives. We also interviewed them to gain rich, insightful, qualitative data about their needs, motivations, and attitudes about using mobile devices. All of this ethnography and contextual inquiry—whether formal research or ad hoc discovery—further validate the design recommendations presented throughout this book.

As a result of this research, we hope we have provided balanced and interlocking coverage of emerging technologies, the common practice of the most buzz-worthy current devices, and the best practice of the well-established “low-end” devices.

And whenever possible, we performed literature surveys to determine why those activities work the way they do, and to explain them—not just stating that they represent the right way, but why they do so. This sort of work helped us, and will help you, to understand the relationships among the different implementations of a pattern. Only understanding why lets us explore the edges without wasteful trial and error. Understanding human cognition, perception, and physiology lets you predict what will work and what will not before building it.

Art, Graphic Design, and Experience

We needed these patterns and heuristics before writing this book because we design mobile applications, websites, services, and OSes. Besides being paid to gather this information, we also have gained access to a lot of other information, such as user research and user behaviors with products in production. In addition, we have been able to perform our own research, and we have gotten firsthand experience with many of these device classes.

We also have other experience, in graphic design, art, human factors, industrial design, engineering, and education. And when working on real projects, to launch with real products, we also have to work with many other individuals, with dozens of other job functions. So these patterns are also grounded in the knowledge base of those skills, often backed by well-documented scientific research again.


Next: Common Practice Versus Best Practice


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Where Did These Patterns Come From? (last edited 2013-04-08 20:01:37 by shoobe01)