Walking a Fine Line

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By Hadar Sharon, Director of Product Management

Meeting the Challenges of User Design (UX) for both iOS and Android Applications

When I joined TeleMessage as a product manager, I laid down a few conditions that we should adhere to with regards the design of our product line. These included gaining a clear understanding of the following:

  1. Our marketing plan: what we are selling and why?
  2. Our customer needs: what is their current flow of daily tasks? How can we incorporate them in the UX?
  3. The current behavior of the interface: how the functionality should work in the different interfaces UX?

For this blog I plan to focus on the third rule and the issue of whether we should be adapting the functionality of our products to suit the different interfaces?

If you ask an iOS phone user to use an Android phone for two weeks, you will most probably hear the following comments: “This is such a primitive phone! Why must I click 10 times to find my pictures? What are all these settings?

You will get similar comments if you loan an Android fan your iOS phone for a few minutes: “What is all the fuss about iOS phones? They are primitive and you cannot configure anything!”

What is clear is that users have become addicted to patterns. When they come to the web, they expect every search to be similar to Google, every commercial experience to be similar to amazon and every map screen to be similar to Google maps.

The logic is exactly the same when it comes to mobile applications. iOS lovers like the fact that all their applications have the same color grid and that settings are limited. Android fans, on the other hand, prefer their colorful applications, they like being able to explore their phones and change their setting. Some would even run DOS commands on their phone if they could.

So here’s the dilemma. When designing a product, do you make the UX similar, no matter what interface you are using or do you adapt the product functionality to suit the patterns of the interface? I definitely prefer going with the latter. Without losing any of the core functionality of the application, users should be able to download the application and feel a warm fuzzy feeling that they already used something similar before and know how to extract maximum functionality without reading any manuals. The feeling that when clicking on a button they have the certainty of the outcome and the outcome should be as they expected.

This experience is obviously different between the interfaces since the abilities are different: web screen size is different from mobile screen size. Native applications like messaging email and internet behave differently between Android and iOS and the API exposed to developers in these two platforms are different. Me? I am an addicted iOS user. I love that the buttons are located as I expected them to be. What is your preference?

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