Patterns in iPad navigation
“We want the interaction to feel familiar to us, and to feel instinctual,” panelist Lynn Teo said as she projected a video of a 2 year old being handed an iPad for the first time. The toddler easily figured out how to swipe through content, zoom, and rotate the iPad for a different orientation.
The size, portability, and touch element of tablets create a new user experience that is more direct and sensually engaging than desktop computers, laptops, or smartphones. As a result, a unique set of design conventions is emerging. Leo analyzed the navigation schemes of 50 leading iPad apps to look for patterns, and her findings were fascinating.
Leo said that the most successful apps are ones that reference the physical world. The MoMA app, for example, recreates the wall space of an art gallery. The CNN app presents news as if each story were a card tacked onto a board. One of the cooking apps replicates a kitchen table, and even presents the recipes on images of food-stained paper.
Even though I really enjoyed this panel, it’s hard for me to accept Leo’s findings as “design conventions.” The iPad is still such a new technology, and the visual language of tablet navigation is bound to go through many changes. I only wish Leo talked more about where she thought tablet design was heading.