When it comes to mobile interaction, it is clear that apps are taking over. Today, end-users are demanding great user experience, and businesses are working hard to provide it. Staying relevant means building a robust user interface design and tailoring apps to the human psyche as it evolves day to day, without any of the interactions ever being a burden to achieve.
This shift in design thinking towards mobile applications has started to bleed into other platforms of digital design. Consider modern website design – we are growing away from static pages with flat information and limited options, to websites that feel exactly like applications. Sites that are designed with a new and untapped objective in mind, or ones that make the experience of an already well-known yet mundane activity that much better, utilize application-like visuals and features to achieve these unique experiences.
Consider the user interface and experience design in these web examples: Vacay.io, a music discovery site, is a personal favourite that showcases great interface design on the web. This site is jam-packed with features that look and act like an app, yet it crowdsources all of its tracks from blog content across the web. Songs and playlists are gathered through crowdsourcing other web-blogs, which are then populated in a list-style feed on the site. Users have the ability to set the parameters of this feed. They can add or remove the sites they want to monitor for new songs, thus creating a very personalized experience. There are also other features like putting a song in your “crate,” and creating your own personal playlists that you can listen to and share as your own offering. Even the “track playing” information feed that rests at the top screams application interface.
Perhaps one of the best examples is Google, and the way they are experimenting with their new mail interface. It takes the exact same data and function from Gmail and organizes it for a different feel – a look that is akin to the Inbox mail client for mobile. One has to wonder whether they developed it on mobile or web first. Both the web and mobile app version of Inbox were released in conjunction. FYI, for those that wish to interact with the normal Gmail client instead, it still exists. Furthermore, Google has one of the best structures for seamless updating across every single application they offer, from Calendars to Hangouts. The web platforms for these tools are all shifting to a more application-based feel.
How does this shift affect digital designers moving forward?
Design thinking in this realm will help fuel the appropriate designer’s understanding of how multiple platforms should behave, in turn creating stronger designers across the board. Will there be less differentiation between a web designer and a mobile user interface designer? If you take a look around, more digital designers are bridging the gap between not just these two, but among all platforms in general.
This trend can be seen with many user interface prototyping tools like Pixate, which seems to be moving towards an all-in-one solution. This tool allows you to very quickly adapt designs to different formats, even customized ones. Even peripherals like the Apple Watch are starting to be considered in the making of a studio/application that is cohesive across all platforms.
Universal user interfaces will become more prevalent because they produce a more consistent user experience, no matter what device is being used. With digital interfaces (and most things for that matter), people usually like what they are familiar with, especially if they have to repeat these same things every day. They pick their way of doing things and stick with it.
At Flybits, this design trend is an important aspect we keep in mind as we move forward, focusing on the interface and experience design of our own Experience Studio. It’s currently web-based, but if we were to release a mobile app, how smooth would the transition be between web and mobile for someone managing their own content using this CMS? Considering this in our design thinking is critical for success!