Designing for a mobile context

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In 2007 Barbara Ballard launched her book ‘Designing the Mobile User Experience’ in which she tried to explain to us what the design challenge for mobile devices is. It’s a good book to read, but for the lazy designers among us… there is an easier solution. A couple of students decided to translate the first chapters in a storyboard and made an interesting videoclip.


First of all: compliments to the students for making it a very nice video to watch. It explains the challenge quite well. When designing for mobile applications you have to look at the context. This is something a lot of designers seem to forget. In what way will the device be used? Maybe the user doesn’t have time to look at the screen… or maybe he hasn’t got more then one thumb available to control it. And what about surrounding noise and lights? It’s really important to be aware of these factors and there can only be one possible way of finding out: research. Go out and check the places where your device/application will be used. Talk to people and pretend to do the things yourself. That way you will start understanding the context (yes, start… it takes some time).

Jeroen van Geel

Jeroen van Geel is founder/chief kahuna of Johnny Holland and the interaction director at Fabrique [brands, design & interaction], a Dutch multidisciplinary design agency. You can follow him on Twitter via @jeroenvangeel.

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