Responsivity was yesterday. Continuity is today.


Design experiences, not just interfaces

Designing a responsive website or software is a task easy to learn, but hard to master. And while there are thousands of great solutions nearly all of them have one thing in common: They just optimize an interface for use on a specific device.

Just try a website of your liking on your computer or laptop and on your smartphone: Both may work very good for what they are, but they don’t feel connected. It’s only an optimized interface where I can pull my information from.

Wouldn’t it be cool if software would know what I’m up to and push the information?

Example

As I’m getting to work by train I listen to Spotify on my smartphone. The interface of the software isn’t bad at all. Considering all the features they put into it it’s even really good.

But when I arrive at the office and had my first coffee and a little chat with my colleagues I want to start to work and once again open Spotify on my laptop. I’m logged in with the same user account I use on my smartphone, but the software doesn’t remember which song I listened to on my smartphone, it doesn’t even know what playlist I had opened.

So instead of just continue where I left I have to start all over again — choose the playlist, the song and start playing it from the beginning. That’s not a showstopper, but gets more annoying when you are listening to audio books.

Wouldn’t it be nice to continue where you left on another device?

It’s the same for most websites. I designed a lot of eCommerce solutions and of course they are responsive. That’s only logical, because you should be there when the user is ready to make a decision of purchasing something from your store. That may be on his commute to work, in the office or after work from home. We don’t know that, so we offer a solution that always fits. But if the user saw your offer on his commute on his smartphone, read more about it in the office and now is ready to make a purchase in the evening he has to start all over again. If the software would always know who is looking at the screen right now and remembers — or even predicts — what he wants it could offer a direct solution to his desire.

While that may sound a bit spooky like the ads from Minority Report, that’s actually something Google or Amazon do on a daily basis.

Back to Spotify: There’s a feature from Apple in OSX and iOS called Continuity which does exactly that: Simply continue from where you left.

Our role as designers evolves

While we as designers are sometimes questioned by ideas like “design in the browser” or specific and strict styleguides our role just changes. It’s not about creating user interfaces anymore, it’s about creating experiences.

That involves wireframing, animation, new workflows and more things that you — and I — may have never done before. It’s a challenge, a challenge to create better products, to create something for people. To solve real problems for real people.

What’s pushing me is the drive to solve problems that no one noticed yet. That’s where innovation happens.