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LukeW is an internationally recognized Web thought leader who has designed or contributed to software used by more than 600 million people. He is currently Senior Director of Product Ideation & Design at Yahoo! Inc., author of two popular Web design books, and a top-rated speaker at conferences and companies around the world. You can follow Luke on Twitter at lukewdesign or by using RSS.
For many of us, logging into websites is a part of our daily routine. In fact, we probably do it so often that we’ve stopped having to think about how it’s done… that is, until something goes wrong: we forget our password, our user name, the email address we signed up with, how we signed up, or even if we ever signed up at all.
These experiences are not just frustrating for us, but are bad for businesses as well. How bad? User Interface Engineering’s analysis of a major online retailer found that 45% of all customers had multiple registrations in the system, 160,000 people requested their password every day, and 75% of these people never completed the purchase they started once they requested their password.
Mobile forms tend to have significantly more constraints than their desktop cousins: screens are smaller; connections are slower; text entry is trickier; the list goes on. So, limiting the number of forms in your mobile applications and websites is generally a good idea. When you do want input from users on mobile devices, radio buttons, checkboxes, select menus and lists tend to work much better than open text fields.
But constraints breed innovation, and mobile forms are no different. The limitations of mobile devices have forced developers and designers to find new ways to allow users to input data faster and more easily. Thanks to the modern solutions covered in this article, the mobile space may not be a place to avoid forms much longer. Instead, it may become the place to encourage them.
Though many computer applications and operating systems make use of real-world metaphors like the desktop, most software interface design has little to do with how we actually experience the real world. In lots of cases, there are great reasons not to directly mimic reality. Not doing so allows us to create interfaces that enable people to be more productive, communicate in new ways, or manage an increasing amount of information. In other words, to do things we can't otherwise do in real life.
But sometimes, it makes sense to think of the real world as an interface. To design user interactions that make use of how people actually see the world -to take advantage of first person user interfaces.
First person user interfaces can be a good fit for applications that allow people to navigate the real world, "augment" their immediate surroundings with relevant information, and interact with objects or people directly around them.