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Discussion on: Erase Distinctions Between Desktop and Mobile, Web and Native

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gsonderby profile image
Gert Sønderby

There's a critical flaw in trying to erase boundaries here. The differences between mobile, tablet, desktop, etc. are not about screen size - that matters, but people resize a browser window, too. Make your stuff so it'll show on as wide a span of sizes as possible, and you'e golden.

No, it's mainly about input methods. Touch screen input is and will remain very distinct from mouse input, and a physical keyboard is a far different affair than a software keyboard on a touch screen. Touch screen input means no hovering, no cursor hinting, and far less precision in put, meaning far larger inputs are required - which will irritate a mouse user! No hardware keyboard means no key short cuts, no tab completion, none of the features we routinely use keys for - but software keyboards usually have predictive text, with varying accuracy, and built-in emoji capability, both of which their uses will expect to be able to use.

Then there's browsers and OS'es response to custom input types - looking at HTML inputs, the 'date' and 'time' inputs come to mind a great deal here. On Android, for instance, tapping an input field of type 'time' gives you a fancy clockface style dialog where you select a time. On a desktop Chrome, however, you just have an up and a down button to increment or decrement time. Meanwhile, 'date' inputs show, respectively, a nice calendar picker, and an ugly box that looked like it fell out of a 1990's accounting system. Consistency is, apparently, for chumps? But that's our problem now, as the developers.

From a UX perspective, there are huge differences between touchscreen devices and desktop devices. And I thank my lucky stars that the Windows 8 era hybrid devices haven't taken off more than they have, TBH.

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cathodion profile image
Dustin King Author

I don't disagree about different input/output methods sometimes needing different design. However, sometimes this ends up meaning that certain capabilities are only available on one platform or another. For example, right-click type menus and searching within text are usually unavailable on touch interfaces (or at least not obvious). Providing or emphasizing those capabilities is a choice that developers or designers could make, in a way that's suitable to a given platform.

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gsonderby profile image
Gert Sønderby

This is what I mean, though. It's a rare designer who can make all options available on both platform types. So it may be best to design the two apart, each focusing on making its best UX available.