12 Myths of Mobile User-Interface Design
Aaron Marcus, Aaron Marcus and Associates
Seminar on People, Computers, and Design
Stanford University February 11, 2005
Developers share many illusions and delusions about mobile-device user-interface design. In the UI development world, there are many assumptions or myths floating around about the future of mobile devices. Myths are useful in civilizations. They summarize inherited wisdom and guide us to the future. Some become obsolete, like the ones about the flat earth and the sun as the center of the universe. Let's make sure our ideas about mobile device UI design remain fresh and useful.A 35-year veteran of user-interface design pops a few conceptual balloons and puts a few new twists on others.
- Myth: Users want power and aesthetics. Features are everything.
- Myth: What we really need is a Swiss army knife.
- Myth: 3G is here!
- Myth: Focus groups and other traditional market analysis tools are the best way to determine user needs.
- Myth: If it works in Silicon Valley, it will work anywhere.
- Myth: The killer app will be games, --er, no, I mean, horoscopes, or--
- Myth: Mobile devices will essentially be phones, organizers, or combinations, with maybe music/video added on.
- Myth: The industry is converging on a UI standard.
- Myth: Highly usable systems are just around the corner.
- Myth: One underlying operating system will dominate.
- Myth: Mobile devices will be free-or nearly free.
- Myth: Advanced data-oriented services are just around the corner.
As mobile devices continue to proliferate, UI and software developers need to work together to make the most useful, useful, and appealing products and systems. Keeping in mind the difference between myths and misconceptions may help developers to design UIs that show the right things, in the right way, at the right time, to the right people. We'll all benefit.
This lecture is based on Mr. Marcus' article, "12 myths of Mobile UI Design," written for Software Develpment Magazine, May 2003. The images and themes have been continuously updated as the industry develops , and Mr. Marcus has presented versions of this lecture at CHI 2004, APCHI 2004, and NORDICHI 2004.
Aaron Marcus is the founder and President of Aaron Marcus and Associates, Inc. (AM+A). A graduate in physics from Princeton University and in graphic design from Yale University, in 1967 he became the world's first graphic designer to be involved fulltime in computer graphics. In the 1970s he programmed a prototype desktop publishing page layout application for the Picturephone (tm) at AT&T Bell Labs, programmed virtual reality spaces while a faculty member at Princeton University, and directed an international team of visual communicators as a Research Fellow at the East-West Center in Honolulu. In the early 1980s he taught at the University of California/Berkeley, was a Staff Scientist at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, founded AM+A.
Mr. Marcus has written over 150 articles; written/co-written five books, including (with Ron Baecker) Human Factors and Typography for More Readable Programs (1990), Graphic Design for Electronic Documents and User Interfaces (1992), and The Cross-GUI Handbook for Multiplatform User Interface Design (1994) all published by Addison-Wesley; contributed chapters/case studies to seven books of user-interface design, information appliances, and culture, including three industry Handbooks; and serves on the editorial/advisory boards of five industry publications, including Interactions and User Experience.
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