It’s easy to get bogged down in technical specifics and specs, especially when building apps for multiple devices. A trap many devs, designers and PMs fall prey to involves requiring separate designs for each screen size: 1200px desktop, 768px tablet, 320px mobile, etc. While designing for screen size is important, everyone really should be designing for the user. Your user is mobile, or holding a tablet, or sitting at a desktop. Let’s look at how user-centric thinking benefits your design as well as your user’s experience.
Instead of just re-confabulating the design to fit inside 375px and 480px and all, also be sure to remember how the app is going to be used: standing or even walking, one-handed and primarily with a thumb, in deep shade or bright sunlight, and so on.
The desktop user is most likely sitting (presumably in an office), going back and forth from mouse to keyboard while looking at a vertical monitor, whereas the laptop user could be precariously balancing his machine in a hotel lobby while trying to work a trackpad; the tablet user could be on a sofa, cradling an infant in front of the TV—or in bed—at just the right angle to make typing annoying.
This is what you should think about while creating your designs—not the size of the screen (though obviously screen size is a very real constraint), but the usability of the app in the most likely (or predominant) user-scenario or environment.
Take a tip from empathic design, and put yourself in the shoes of someone working on a large monitor at the office or home, then somebody setting up a laptop in a hotel lobby, then someone parked in a living room on their tablet, then someone walking down a hall or across a lot to their car. Think how your designs should change to accommodate every possible scenario—rather than simply trying to Tetris content from a large wide rectangle into a little tall one.
Obviously, best practices such as designing for mobile first, ensuring readability on all devices, using real content, and enhancing as you gain screen real estate are critical to great design and happy users. But working beyond these practices, I always consider how my designs will be used across scenarios, not screen sizes.
Building upon existing design philosophies such as empathic design and accessible design, one more way to improve your work and better engage users is simply to keep in mind the goal of your designs is always to make the user happy. Because the devices don’t care.
But Anexinet does. So don’t forget, if you’re looking to extend the reach of your mobile catalog and need help perfecting your cross-platform or cross-device UI/UX design, don’t hesitate to reach out to us with any questions or concerns. Our expert consultants will be happy to get you started.
User Experience Designer/Art Director