What is good enough for mobile?
5 Lessons about mobile
I just learned an important product design lesson: Mobile is not the web. Yes that’s obvious, anybody can tell you the basics: bigger buttons, shorter text, harder choices. But we also need to confront fundamentally different expectations from users, and match those with different processes on the product dev end. @benedictEvans summed up the challenge well:
- Minimum expectations from users are higher. The “viable” in MVP is not what it was for web products. We are crossing the line from technology to fashion. We are not building tech any more, we’re building experiences. That should have always been the case, but mobile is amplifying that aspect. Even on internal tools, users tolerate less than they used to. I can’t recall who I heard say this, but “what distinguishes millennials from previous generations is a very low tolerance for bullshit,” and that means we need to provide higher quality experiences.
- Motion and design touches are not after thoughts. Those elements are one of the cornerstones of providing a seamless user experience. They are subtle cues, but are absolutely necessary to get over the bars of from lesson 1: Fashion yes, bullshit no.
“Music is the space between the notes.
It’s not the notes you play;
it’s the notes you don’t play.”
— Miles Davis
Static mockups after a whiteboard are dead to me, long live http://framerjs.com/ and/or https://facebook.github.io/origami/
- Technology is not getting easier. I can’t really say it’s getting harder, because there are so many amazing tools out there now. But for every tool that has made it easier to build something, the bar of expectations has gotten higher: better, faster, cheaper. Applying new technology to old problems has some advantages and can create opportunities. It also raises an enormous <blink>red flag</blink>. If you’re finding that tech is making something easier, you’re not reaching far enough and will fail to meet minimum viable expectations.
- Simpler is always better. There are fewer places to hide on a small screen, and good enough is simply not good enough. Failing to eliminate parts that are not absolutely essential will drag you down on being able to meet expectations.
- Rules? what rules? What is better? it all depends on your audience. That is not the audience, its your audience. SnapChat and GoPop are not for the masses, but their tools work for their niche’s. Where is your niche? Don’t make products for everybody, make products for somebody. Mass products for mass markets are dead, mobile is about homeruns in a niche, not a good batting average across many audiences.
I know a lot of these observations aren’t really that new. Maybe they are a few years too late, but the wheel wasn’t invented in a day. The way we approach mobile products continues to evolve and I encourage you to not have failures of imagination.