We’re Only Swiping the Surface
Archiving an email by swiping it to the right feels so, so good. I can scroll a little, swipe to archive, scroll a little more, swipe to archive. Wow, I am cranking though my inbox. What did I ever do without this application? Scroll a little more, then swipe another email to the warm, cozy archive.
Wait a second… Where did my emails go? Where is this archive?
Deleting emails is smooth, too. Just swipe it a little further to the right. Scroll to an email you don’t need anymore, long-swipe it to the right and send it to the trash, scroll a little more, long-swipe another to the trash. Damn, I’m taming my wild inbox like never before! Scroll a little more and long-swipe another email to the nasty, stinky trash.
Hold on… Where did my deleted emails go? Where is this trash?
To get to my archive or trash I have to navigate through a set of menus. Now I’m confused. I don’t understand what sliding things around means. Direction and movement have no value here. Swiping an email to the right puts it far away and requires several taps across several screens to find.
Is swiping a glorified button? Is swiping a hidden and only-findable-in-the-depths-of-some-tutorial kind of glorified button?
So much lost potential. It hurts my heart.
Getting more out of gestures
What if swiping something actually moved it to an appropriate adjacent screen? It would require an application to be designed with a sense of space in mind. It could be really constraining, but it could also be extremely intuitive.
You could even hint at what swiping might do by subtly revealing the adjacent screens.
It would completely break tradition with common mobile device menu structures. You would have to somehow work a set of screens across a horizontal space into the navigation. This might only allow for a small set of screens and could quickly become overwhelming.
But this horizontal set of screens would give you more clues as to what you might do with the emails on the current screen. There would be a place for all that recently swiped email to call home. Space and movement now have a purpose.
We’re only swiping the surface
Even though digital touch systems have been around for years, and their adoption has been faster than any technology or medium we’ve ever seen, we’re only beginning to take advantage of their huge potential. We have the ability to manipulate content like never before. We have the ability to define systems of behavior like never before. We have a chance to make a dent in the universe. We don’t have any more excuses.
It’s time to make some really cool shit. :)