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Review of The Mobile Frontier by Rachel Hinman

I've recently finished reading The Mobile Frontier by . It's an excellent book, full of solid, sound, advice about mobile. One small caveat: the book leans strongly towards UX and design, and not so much towards development. Below are some of my notes from the book. Hinman captures the freshness and uniqueness of mobile very well.

  • We need to embrace this new medium, be aware of its constraints and take advantage of what ts can do well, such as spatial-temporal relationships.
  • The mobile context is everywhere and anywhere: it's highly dynamic, unpredictable, and full of potential disruptions.
  • The three most important constraints are: device, environment, and human.

She discusses Mobile Context Design Tips, and two in particular caught my eye.

  • "Enable picking up where you left off." This is, of course, good for non-mobile contexts too, but the interruptability of mobile use makes it even more important.
  • "Use time as an organising principle." This is used explicitly in some things such as Facebook's timeline, but I think it can be used more widely in situations where time isn't necessarily an obvious choice for an ordering. Streams of data are becoming a more popular way of displaying data, driven largely by higher mobile use.

Hinman also discusses convergence and multi-device experiences. Since people often complete a task across multiple devices, we must design for a device ecosystem. The most common example at the moment is shopping for an item on a mobile device, but completing the purchase on a desktop device.

Chapter 5 is about Mobile UX Patterns, and is full of useful, practical, suggestions. Two that stick out for me are Content becomes the interface (which is popping up a lot these days with fully gesture-driven apps such as Clear and Rise) and Say goodbye to done (which is all about the erosion of task-based interactions in favour of: accruing value over time; exploration and discovery; using sensors to guess intent).

Hinman strongly recommends getting to a prototype early in the process, and I couldn't agree more. Being a web developer, I'm most interested in ways of getting HTML & CSS out as quickly as possible, but she discusses many more forms.

The book contains a lot more than I've mentioned here, and I highly recommend it.