Learn how devices are used across various contexts and environments and why context of use is so important for multidevice UX design. In this video, Diane Cronenwett describes how devices serve different functions for various contexts.
- Content can delivered on any device, but some devices are better suited for particular tasks. To better understand how you're going to design for a multi-device scenario you'll need to understand the user, the tasks they want to complete, and any environmental constraints. This is referred to as context of use. More specifically, context of use is the understanding of the conditions and environments in which your user interacts with your product. Understanding context of use is important for any design project, but it's especially critical for designing a multi-device experience.
As you'll want to ensure you understand how your user is going to use the product from wherever they are. For example, desktops and laptops are useful for complex tasks with all features and capabilities assessable. Writing a blog post or inventory tracking are good tasks for the desktop because they require keyboard and a mouse as an input to complete the tasks, which aren't required or expected for other devices. Desktops are typically used for daytime work.
Smart mobile phones are useful for on-the-go activities like checking weather and using location for mapping. For example, trying to write a blog post is much more difficult on a mobile device. However, mobile use is growing and according to a concourse study of mobile trends worldwide some activities are completely overtaking the desktop with users preferring their mobile device for activities like engaging on social media, messaging, real estate, and retail. The main input for a mobile phone is using your finger for swiping and tapping.
Tablets are typically used for entertainment and browsing, and for viewing streaming video or playing games. You can attach a keyboard to a tablet and use it as a device for writing. The bigger screen for a tablet allows for an enhanced video experience that some of the smartphones can't accommodate for. The main input for tablet is also your finger for swiping and tapping. Watches are highly compact with a small view port. Given that watches and other wearables are worn close to your body, the user might use it to help with their workouts or other fitness pursuits, as well as quick tasks for at-a-glance activities.
The main input for a watch is your finger for tapping and swiping, but it might be a pulse or other body related inputs. TVs are stationary devices, and primarily deliver content to users who are leaning back on their couch from a distance. The input can be a physical remote control if it's a smart TV with native apps. However, you can watch content through a variety of devices like Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, and Chromecast, and use your mobile phone or watch as the remote control.
Voice interfaces are becoming more popular with all the smart devices in our life. Voice interactions are typically hands-free and Apple's Siri, Amazon's Alexa, Google's Assistant, and Microsoft's Cortana are example of how pervasive interacting with devices through voice and speech input are becoming. Context is important with voice inputs because there are occasions in which you can't look at a screen, such as driving. The input for a voice interface is, you guessed it, your voice.
Another example of a product that interacts with phone apps or voice command is the Philips Hue LED light bulb. You can control the lights turning on and off based on your voice command, or through the use of phone apps. As technology evolves there will be more products that will take advantage of our interconnected lifestyles. It's important to have a general understanding of your users and give some thought to the context of how the user's going to interact with your product depending on where they are and what they want to do.
- Principles for multidevice design
- Responsive design in action
- Designing for multiple devices using native paradigms
- Designing mobile or tablet interfaces
- Designing for a watch, a TV, or for voice
- Creating an information architecture diagram
- Using Sketch to design your mobile experience
- Prototyping with InVision
- Exploring Bootstrap and Foundation