For the next several months, I have the amazing opportunity to design the UX for one of the biggest names in sports and entertainment, and even more amazing, it’s for the iPad. I was intimidated when I started this project because I’ve never designed anything for the iPad before. I’ve owned one, used one, didn’t particularly love it or hate it, but had never designed for it. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m of the school of thought that design is design. Whether I’m designing a chair, a website, or a mobile app, I’ll use the same principles and processes that are at the root of our design framework. But still… I was scared to screw it up… am I the only one?
Along my journey designing for this new device I wanted to share with you some things that I’ve learned so far. First and most important, design IS still design. Research, personas, scenarios, etc are all still highly relative and necessary, probably even more so. Your personas and scenarios are shaped much differently considering the environment your user will be in as well as the different ways they’ll use the device (think entertainment and content consumption vs. work).
Second, the biggest difference that I have seen is that we are designing something completely new. It’s designing for discovery and awesomeness as opposed to efficiency and usability (of course the type of app makes a HUGE difference for this point. My app is sports and entertainment thus I can make this claim). What does this mean? It means that making it easy for someone to experience a piece of content doesn’t always equal a great user experience. The iPad is still very, very new. The majority of people won’t own a tablet for many years, and those that do have one are usually more tech savvy and want to be wowed. They got it for that cool, sexy, what can this do differently factor. People want to discover new interactions and be delighted at new ways to do the same old things. Users are much more patient in this aspect.
Third, similar to other mobile devices, there is a lot more that you can consider when designing for the iPad. Inputs are different. It’s not just a keyboard and mouse. One has to consider the movement of the iPad in space (tilt for example), different touch scenarios and metaphors (tap vs. swiping vs. turning a virtual dial). Also, sound inputs might be considered. All of these things add up to a completely different, more enriching set of environment and behavioral experiences. The user can feel like they are INSIDE the screen.
Fourth, although we’ve had a lot of this knowledge for sometime when we’ve designed mobile phone apps, we now have a pretty big easel in which to create our experience. The screen is much, much bigger and thus the experience can be much more intense, as opposed to that of a mobile phone. This doesn’t mean you should fill the screen up with more junk, but it does mean that your user has more space to play and interact, which gives us designers more wiggle room to user our creative spark.
Last but not least, make your design fun. It should be fun to use this new device. Think outside the box and try to make it even more delightful. With these new user point of views, inputs, metaphors there are so many different experiences that we can cultivate. How much more fun is our job now?? Thanks again Apple.