My Notes on LukeW’s Warm Gun 2013 Talk on Cross Device Design

From a talk LukeW gave at the Warm Gun conference in SF, Nov. 22, 2013, and uploaded on YouTube here.

Topic: Cross Device Design  QuickTake:  The key concepts for creating a good user experience across devices are access, flow, control and push. Multiple devices call for an adaptive design approach (responsive alone probably won’t cut it as TVs, wearable tech etc take off).

In US 2012 (and these numbers can only have gone up in 2013):

  • 52% of laptop owners had a smart phone
  • 31% of smartphone owners had a tablet
  • 13% of Americans had a laptop, smartphone and tablet

As with mobile in ’08-’09, companies can see that the multi-device paradigm is coming–but most aren’t addressing the full complexity it demands.

Google found 90% of people with laptops, TVs and smart phones use them sequentially (jump from one to the other throughout the day)

81% of smartphone owners use it while watching TV

66% use it while using their laptop

66% use their laptop while watching TV

People are choosing to use the device they’re most comfortable with–not necessarily the device closest to them

So how do we design in a cross-device world? You can organize around tasks people do:

  1. Access–Can users access your content in a similar fashion across multiple devices? Think of Chrome or Safari–you can access bookmarks, use the back button etc on any device for a seamless experience
  2. Flow–Can users have a similar content flow across devices (ie are the mechanical processes the same)? On Google maps, you can search on your desktop for an address, then pull up the maps app on your phone and that search will be at the top of your history. Then use the phone’s GPS to drive to the location. Different devices serve different needs better (typing on the desktop, GPS on the phone). Web sockets allow real-time collaboration on different devices.
  3. Control–Use one device to control another, like a remote phone app controlling the TV. OneID allows you to authorize multiple devices at once (and avoid log-ins). OneID also allows you to set spending limits on eCommerce sites, in case of children using your phone to buy things, phone loss etc.
  4. Push–One device pushes content to another device, like Airplay. (40% of smartphone and tablet owners are aware of screen mirroring! But only 7% have used it.) Apple TV mirrors from phones to TV. Chromecast does also, but the experience can suffer from phone-dimension “letterboxing” on a wider screen–resulting in poor usage of screen real estate. Ebay allows you to snap photos of items, which are then pushed to the item post you’re writing on your desktop.

Ergonomics plays a role also. Netflix assumes tablet users view from an 18-inch distance; laptop users from 2′, and TV users from 10′. They optimize their interface for each device.

Native apps and mobile web can be used for creating great cross-device designs–they can even be used in tandem.

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