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Linear Flow problems

 
Dave Henderson
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Josh & Cameron,

I'm as green as it gets. My test apps flow top to bottom and usually not so user friendly, as I code the UI based on what I feel the proper user interaction should be. Is linear flow that much of an issue when it comes to usability?

Thanks,
Hendo
 
Cameron Banga
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Hey there Hendo,

Follow up if I'm wrong, but assuming here that you're talking about with respect to placing your interface, you fall from top to bottom, with what you feel is most important. That's a great starting strategy, for the most part.

Building a UI does require you to think about the psychology and mind of your user a little bit. Think of your interface like reading a concert poster or website. Where do your eyes focus first? Typically, if you're an english speaker/reader, you're going to focus on the top left of the screen first. It just makes sense to draw your focus there first, and then scroll right/down the screen. So you're doing good with this strategy. But it is important to remember that this may not always be the case. Some languages like Arabic go from right-to-left when writing out, so users who work in that language may be confused initially by your design. So it's important to consider your potential user base and what they will expect (we have a great chapter in our book on this).

But in mobile, it's not just reading/visuals that matter when creating UI, but touch and feel as well. Commonly, you'll see important interface buttons toward the bottom of the screen. On iOS, the home button and tab bar UIs all lay upon the bottom of the screen. On Android, you'll find the software (and increasingly less common hardware) home/back/menu huttons anchored to the bottom of the screen. Why? Because they're easiest to reach with your thumb when holding a device in a single hand.

So think about how your app, and the different parts of your interface, will be used frequently. We talk in the book about metrics and seeing how users respond to your app, and this is where this becomes key. You can see it frequently in Google's recent I/O talks on material design, as it's common to see important UI buttons hovering over the bottom right of a view/screen for easy reach/interaction. If you see a similar function for your app's UI, feel free to try it!
 
Dave Henderson
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Wow, I never even gave thought to the idea of "single hand use". I appreciate your insight. Thank you so much!

Hendo
 
Cameron Banga
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@Hendo,

Next time you're out at a meetup/conference/coffee shop with someone who may use one of your apps, give them your phone to test it out. And while they use your app, don't lead with questions or interrupt them, but instead watch and observe as the person navigates around your work. How do they hold the phone in their hand? Do they make direct, purpose driven touches? Do they appear lost?

If you do ask questions, ask open ended but important thoughts like:

* How do you get to feature X?
* Is it clear to you as to what you should do next?
* Do you understand how to go backwards/forwards?
* If you felt lost or confused in this app, what would you do?

Often leads to great feedback!
 
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