Join Brian Thurston Bralczyk for an in-depth discussion in this video Defining an interaction model, part of UX Foundations: Multidevice Design (2014).
With so many different gestures you can use on touch devices and even custom gestures you can define yourself, it's important to define a clear interaction model for your product. An interaction model is an overarching set of design patterns that are consistent throughout an application. Essentially, if a user views or interacts with something in one part of your product, they should be able to complete a similar task in the same way elsewhere in your app. So this means taking individual gestural interactions, and mapping them out across the entire project, not just on a screen by screen basis.
A really interesting example of a consistent and well thought out interaction model is Facebook's Paper app for iPhone. Swiping to the left and right at the top navigates the user through high level sections, which are based on different types of content. And when I'm on a particular section, swiping left and right in the bottom half shows me different articles within it. Once I see an article I want to view, I can swipe up on it to enlarge it and read more detail. If I want to go back in the navigation to my Browse view, I just swipe down.
If I want to see my settings and profile information, I swipe down again. What I love about the Paper app is the consistency with which they've used gestures. They decided that swipe would be their dominant interaction, and they used it in a very meaningful way in all four directions. If they'd instead used swipe to browse but then tap and hold to view an individual article, the barrier to understanding would have been much higher. The user would have had to learn two different gestures to interact with the app. And the natural fluid feel that the consistent swipe gestures provided would have suddenly been broken by a much different kind of interaction.
So one of the keys to successful interaction model is to be consistent. The other is to make sure the gestures you're using make sense for your product, your brand, and for your user. Pick gestures that make sense for the type of app you're creating. If at any point it feels weird when you're trying to do a task, you may want to change the type of interaction. If your brand's all about fun, extending that into your app with more interesting gestures and animations, helps reinforce that. If they're exploring and enjoying themselves, the interaction should be a part of that experience.
But if you're a very business oriented brand, you may want to avoid anything that feels superfluous to the user getting their task done quickly. Also think about your users. Will they be tech savvy enough to want to explore and figure out new types of gestures? If so craft the experience by making smart use of gestures that not only accomplish their task but also make them feel like your app is cutting edge. But if your users will be in a hurried or one handed situation when they use your app. Make sure all your interactions are easy to do without needing two hands.
And also make sure that every gesture provides the fastest way to get them what they need. If your interested in a much more detailed explanation of interaction models check out Jim Nieter's great article on UX Matters. It's extremely in-depth and a great read for any UX Designer. As you design your app, periodically step back and review the entire thing. Watch out for interactions that feel inconsistent with each other and make sure the overall experience of using it feels fluid and natural.
- What is multidevice design?
- Creating responsive web apps vs. native apps
- Deciding which screen sizes to support
- Delivering content across devices
- Personalizing content
- Designing for touch
- Using animation on touch devices
- Planning your user flow across devices