Monday, March 4, 2013

How mobile is shaping design

Everyone knows mobile devices are becoming more ubiquitous.  One look around the coffee shop tells you that.  But mobile devices don't just add to our digital browsing options, they are changing our preferences.

In the 90's left aligned form field labels were all the rage.  If you knew how to layout a form (probably in a table) perfectly lining up the labels to the left of the form fields, you were an HTML master.  Vertically aligned labels just looked cluttered.  Given the two options below, today, both look fine.

But if you were to view these two options on a phone...

The one on the right is the clear winner.  The vertical layout of the labels increases the size of the form and readability of the labels.  It also serves to space out the form fields so that fumbling fingers don't trap you in a world of stymied selection.

This is just one example of how mobile devices have made us flip-flop on our design preferences.  It is interesting to note, that while the vertical layout is only "better" on a phone, the desire to keep designs consistent has made it the preferred choice for all platforms.  You can test this by scrolling back up to view the two original forms.  Your mind, having seen the vertical layout on a phone, will tend to prefer it even after the phone is taken away.

How has mobile changed your perspective?