December 11, 2011

Designing for handhelds? Be cautious and don’t go overboard…

It’s a trend now-a-days to develop content for multiple devices such as Desktops, Smart Phones, Tablets, etc. We also see people go overboard with their design and finally when they view the content in handhelds, it may not appear as expected. So what is that we generally miss? Of course there are tools to help us but I don’t think they can help us decide what is correct or incorrect…

It looks beautiful…. I can’t read it…

Have you seen any content which looks great on Desktop but because of lack of time we forget to adjust it for handhelds trusting the device’s capability, and it doesn’t look good at all. Why does that happen? It’s always tricky! The fonts that look great on a desktop may not look good in handhelds. We might have to change the font-family, font-size, or font-color and the way it is positioned on the screen.

Why do we have to clutter the page/screen when we know it has constraints in terms of its screen size? We forget to spread it out or minimize the amount of content we display because it looked good in desktop! I know there are much smarter people out there who have mastered this art :) Of course a picture speaks thousand words but we don’t have to fill the screen with only images… there are bandwidth issues as well to be considered.

Hey… where is my rollover event?

Some of us take pride in showing our design and development capability and use all possible events for interactive elements. But while doing so, do we realize how difficult is to execute some of these events? One person had designed a beautifully looking rollover event on a menu but he forgot that swiping the finger on a tablet it treated as a click. Another one even had screens changing on rollover and he had to change it to mouse click for the benefit of handhelds.

Additional info… but nothing opens…

It might help to give additional resources as separate files so that if the learner is interested they can open them and see. But have we thought of the constraints for handhelds? Some of the additional documents or reference materials we share might open another application to read them and that application may not be present in a tablet version or not installed on the tablet being used. I’ve seen generally handhelds having PDF Readers but that may not be true for reading .doc or .wmv or any other formats.

Yes, it is always a good idea to design for multiple devices but is it critical? I would say not always. If I think about any eLearning content and the audience associated with it, there are two aspects I would consider. Are my audience serious learners or fun-loving? Do they learn at one place or on-the-go? Many times I have seen people talking about designing to cater all types of devices including Desktop, Mobile, and Tablets but isn’t it critical to analyze how my learners are distributed in terms of their behavior pattern for learning?

More later…

Posted by Vish11:32 AM
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