Designing for the small screen

Posted by | March 31, 2015 | Opinions | No Comments
tablet device

While the cinema is all about the big screen, the design world is very much about the small screen and it just keeps getting smaller. With the launch of the much-anticipated Apple Watch, designers now have a new UX challenge to get the creative juices flowing.

Just as we had begun to move away from the iPhone 4 to a larger display on the 5, 6 and 6+ as well as the numerous Android devices, the game has changed once again. I have no doubt that the Apple Watch will be a huge success and will be a benchmark for ‘digital innovation’, most notably within the wellbeing sector that is already a multi-billion dollar industry. It opens up so many opportunities that as innovators, we are only just touching the surface. Of all the enquiries and digital ideas that come through my studio door, at least 25% are within this sector.

However, this article is not about the potential success of the Apple Watch, it’s about the absolute need for a mobile first UX approach to almost all digital design. With analytics hitting well above the 50% mark for mobile, I am firmly of the opinion that within 2 – 3 years, the desktop will be a dinosaur around the home and the consumer market.

Whilst this presents an enormous challenge with so many different screen sizes, it’s also revolutionised the way we display and consume content. It’s forced content creators (yes, that means us as designers and not just writers) to keep things SIMPLE and use ‘technology smarts’ to streamline interfaces and pull everything back to what is absolutely essential. The result, is that it’s a win no matter what device you are on.

By analyzing the business model, the target audience and the way in which your message needs to be consumed, it’s amazing how little one often needs to say in order to communicate. Long gone are the days of fluff and beefing up content – there just isn’t room anymore.

… but it’s not easy. In fact, it’s really hard!

Just like abstract art isn’t quite as simple as some observers may believe, designing a clean, highly intuitive and visually engaging interface is a challenge that should not be under estimated. Simplicity can be the greatest conundrum of all.

Bring on the Apple watch and let’s keep design simple.