Make sure your UI is not lipstick on a pig

Are you working on the next generation user interface? If you are, are you designing for multiple devices or are you simply putting lipstick on a pig?

 There is a lot of development work underway with regards to handheld and tablet devices. There needs to be, too – everything that has happened during 2010 continues to point to the long-term dominance of mobile computing.

 Apple pushes more and more new devices, Google’s Android has become an operating mainstay and Microsoft – probably the first company to really suggest that the future of computing would be tablet-based a decade ago – want to muscle back into the action.

 Attention in the media has recently been directed to Microsoft’s move into the mobile space. The firm is likely to have a busy end to the year, with the buzz surrounding the anticipated release of Windows 7 Mobile and a possible tablet device (see further reading, below).

 For now, Windows users will have to be content with development around the margins. One such development is UI Centric’s custom Windows 7 tablet user interface, codenamed Macallan. An article analysing the UI (see further reading) claimed the results were “pretty incredible”.

 The custom interface is still to be released, so claims of yet another “iPad killer” are very much up for debate. But the UI Centric development – and other potential Windows 7 Mobile devices from manufacturers such as LG, Samsung and HTC – shows that the mobile market continues to evolve and grow.

 What UI designers must avoid as the mobile market emerges is to “put lipstick on a pig”, as one anonymous poster commented with regards to the UI Centric Windows 7 tablet. That seems harsh with regards to “Macallan”, which at least demonstrates the strength in potential of UI designs that are created with a particular device in-mind.

 One of the key principles of a successful “multi-device strategy” must be to design for the device. The mobile market remains extremely fragmented and UI developers will have to think of how users will get the best of a particular device with a specific operating system.

 As I have mentioned in my blog before, the smart guys are already moving from a mobile strategy to a multi-device strategy. What is important – rather than the device itself – is the wider approach being taken, which demonstrates how applications and data must be accessed in a similar format on different devices.

 Design for the device but always think of a multi-device strategy and how elements can be ported and re-used. Fail to think in such a manner and you could find that you’ve even managed to put the wrong lipstick on the wrong pig.

Further reading:



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