Home Spread to Enlarge – Designing for iPhone, Wii and Other New Web Devices

Spread to Enlarge – Designing for iPhone, Wii and Other New Web Devices

Read/WriteTalk has an interesting podcast interview with Dan Saffer, Experience Design Director at Adaptive Path. In the podcast, R/WT host Sean Ammirati and Dan discussed the process of designing for new types of Web-enabled devices – such as Nintendo’s Wii, Apple‚Äôs iPhone and the new touch iPod. The background is that Saffer wrote a blog post a month ago, calling for a set of standards for “gesteral interactions”. He also launched a wiki for collecting gestural patterns.

Also note that a few days ago Apple released a brand new guidelines doc called iPhone Human Interface Guidelines. So it is an important time for the design community, as they grapple with new forms of Web devices and interfaces. Apple itself says (in the Guidelines intro) that the iPhone presents “a revolutionary user interface and interaction model.”

As Dan Saffer says in the podcast, this new “gesteral” form of web design is in big demand already:

“…basically, for the last year, almost every project that I‚Äôve done – in fact, I think every project that I‚Äôve done – has involved some sort of touch interface. Certainly with the advent of the Wii and Apple‚Äôs iPhone and the new touch iPod, the idea of these kinds of different interaction paradigms were coming into the mainstream.

Every time that I went to do one of these projects, I would look for information about it and say, ‚ÄúWow. Has anyone done anything with it? How do you prototype this? How do you document this gesture where I‚Äôm sweeping my hand across the screen?‚Ä? Every time that I would look for that, I was unable to find really anything much of any value at all. So I began to think to myself, ‚ÄúWell, this was really our generation‚Äôs cut and paste. This is our generation‚Äôs drag and drop.‚Ä? These are the types of paradigms that were setup by the guys at Xerox PARC and other interaction designers back in the ‚Äò70s, that have continued up through now on to our desktops. This is our time to really step up and do the exact same thing except doing it for gestures.”
(emphasis ours)

Certainly ‘copy and paste’ and ‘drag and drop’ have historically been two key aspects of web design. But “Pinch to Shrink”, “Ghost Fingers”, “Spread to Enlarge” and other new terms are becoming part of our vocabulary in 2007 and beyond.

The Mobile Web world has been struggling (or adapting) to designing web sites for small screens for years now – see Challenges of Interface Design for Mobile Devices from the Yahoo UI blog for the latest on this. However the gesteral interactions that Dan is talking about really are something new and – yes – revolutionary.

If you’re a designer or developer, what have been your experiences over the past year or so in gesteral interaction design? What have been the chellenges so far – and opportunities that you’re seeing?

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