Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Respecting user choice

We have long known that a developer's strength lays in his confidence in his powers, and all designers are elitist jerks who want to impose there sense of style on the world. But I had thought we were mostly working towards common goals, and can set aside their beliefs to meet the user needs.

I am now realizing that to many designers and developers, anyone who buys a device other than an iPhone -- especially Android -- is a cheapskate, or actually being duped into their decision.

This sort of opinion doesn't serve anyone very well at all. And it's not just academic or about misinterpreting sales numbers, but can be traced to specific behaviors I see in every day app and web development.

I have previously discussed how poorly iOS designs work on Android. And I say this not just at the picky designer, but because I've seen user research proving it. Elderly owners of an Android for a week are consciously aware that the design just isn't right, and fail tasks because they cannot find the top-bar submit button. You don't even want to know how bad removing the menu function, or trading OS for on-screen back buttons will go.

Stop believing that your Android users are a niche group, a flash in the pan, or secretly want an iPhone at all. Prepare yourself to believe the same thing about Windows Phone or Blackberry 10 or whatever comes out in the future as well.

Respect your users, and build the products they deserve and need.


alektraunic said...

i've been scouring the web all afternoon for comments on a similar topic. Designing mobile web to look like native apps. I am working with a design team that keeps referencing the HIGs for iOS and Android to backup their design. I keep saying they should ensure the design for the mobile web site looks like neither as that will only set expectation for performance that is not there. I am a huge supporter of mobile web, yet I aknowledge it is not native, and i don't want to dress it up like it is a inadeqate mimic of a "real" app.

shoobe01 said...

I really wish the research findings I had were something I could show you, but it's one of those secret, not-yet-launched products for a company that is way too secret anyway.

I would look, for proof, to statements around OS-familiarity. Can't find it now, but there is other research indicating people get used to their device within anywhere from 20 minutes to a day.

That means, for sure, you cannot use iOS style design in your Android app. And again I have un-shareable research proving that this causes immense confusion (0% completion rate without prompting) etc.