This category features articles on best and emerging practices for responsive website design, Web apps and native apps. While the mobile Web is still in it’s infancy, we can learn from the experiences of professionals who are working on mobile every day. Curated by Derek Allard. Subscribe to the RSS-Feed.
You’ve put a lot of thought, time and effort into creating great content, and you want users to have a great experience with your content. While you might have created the best content in the world, you don’t get to choose how users access it. That’s why it’s important to make sure your content works beautifully on every platform and device, desktop, mobile or something else entirely.
Before you panic, I’m not advocating that you create individual content strategies for each device or network that your content is published to. That would be crazy, and it wouldn’t necessarily work better for your users.
The navigation system is often the most important and complex user interface component of modern websites. In recent years, small screens, responsive website techniques and ever-evolving hardware and software have only added to this complexity.
A quick query of “mobile navigation” returns thousands of opinions on navigation patterns, including the “hamburger” menu, front-end plugins, frameworks and plenty of other tools. Despite this changing landscape of tools and design trends, a successful navigation system sends users on the path to the exact content they need at the right time.
Working with text has long been the domain of desktops and notebooks. Yet the screen size, resolution and software of mobile devices have improved in recent years, which has made typing a fairly large amount of text quite achievable.
A number of apps and techniques are intended to make this task easier, thus increasing productivity and increasing the amount of text that can be comfortably created or edited on a mobile device.
There are many options available for prototyping mobile user experiences, but if you need to prototype native apps for mobile devices you should take a look at Proto.io when evaluating potential choices. This solution has many features for designing and prototyping mobile apps, including built-in component libraries for specific devices, great support for gestures and transitions, and an app that allows for easy viewing on actual hardware.
But the first thing to know is that unlike most prototyping tools, Proto.io is a web application, so you'll need an internet connection to do your work. This is a drawback compared to other options likes Axure RP, Blueprint, Justinmind, or iRise. It can have an impact if you plan to work somewhere where Wi-Fi connections don't always live up to their promise, like on a flight, in an airport, or in a hotel.
I’m a firm believer that the best way to optimize for fast-loading mobile sites is to optimize for everyone. We don’t know when someone is on a non-mobile device but tethered to their phone, or just on awful Wi-Fi.
In a previous article for Smashing Magazine I explained how you can speed up your websites by serving dynamic pages from a reverse proxy like Varnish. If you are new to Varnish then that article is the place to start as I'll be diving straight into configuration details here. In this article I’ll explain how you can benefit from using Varnish even when there are parts of your pages that can’t be cached for long periods, using Edge Side Includes.
Imagine two futures of mobile technology: in one, we are distracted away from our real-world experiences, increasingly focused on technology and missing out on what is going on around us; in the other, technology enhances our life experiences by providing a needed boost at just the right time.
The first reality is with us already. When was the last time you enjoyed a meal with friends without it being interrupted by people paying attention to their smartphones instead of you? How many times have you had to watch out for pedestrians who are walking with their faces buried in a device, oblivious to their surroundings?
Does this title make you skeptical? I would have been too before I saw the research that led to this article. Ask anyone and they’ll tell you that carousels are an anti-pattern. Don’t use them. But maybe it’s not so cut and dry.
Using real data, this article aims for a better understanding of the current argument against carousels and whether they really deserve the reputation they’ve gained. I’ll break down the arguments point by point and see if our data lines up with those expectations. Through all of that, I’ll detail our findings and methods and make some recommendations on how and when you should use carousels in future.
Digital experiences are emulating real life more and more every day. This may seem counterintuitive, considering the hate that rains down on skeuomorphic visual design, but there's a lot more to emulating real life than aesthetics.
Interface designers can emulate real-life physics and movement on a digital screen. This type of motion is becoming more common, which is why it's becoming easier for people to understand computers. We're not getting better, the interfaces are!
Mobile application ecosystems — let’s count Android and iOS here — are unbelievably dynamic, but they also suffer from both software and hardware fragmentation. This is especially true for Android, but fragmentation also exists in the iOS ecosystem, as experienced with the rollout of iOS 8. As the latest version of iOS was released, many existing apps were made clumsy on updated devices.
Even the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus have had not-so-typical issues for Apple devices. In addition, a significant proportion of users with older devices have very few options: essentially, buy new hardware (i.e. a new device) to get everything working well.
What if you could create an entire back end for your mobile applications that was feature-complete in data synchronization, push-notification support, user management and file-handling before you even started building the mobile experience? What if it was architected in such a way that you could easily create new cross-platform native and web applications seamlessly on this back end?
While this might sound like a fairy tale, it is exactly what providers of mobile back end as a service (MBaaS) are aiming to give app developers. It is up to you to determine whether that is true for the experiences you are creating.