Learning About Mobile Information Architecture

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Learning About Mobile Information Architecture

It goes without saying that “mobile” anything is a hot topic. Some questions include:

  • Should our website/intranet/extranet/whatever-net go mobile? Is it valuable to our business?
  • If so, why? If not, why not?
  • If so, how?

After doing some reading, there are a few resources I’d like to share to help you get started learning about mobile, specifically with regards to mobile user experience and information architecture. I’m learning about mobile, too, so we’ll be learning together.

Naturally, there are numerous resources for learning about the “Why” behind mobile support. The ones I found most interesting include:

The Power of Mobile: A talk by Susannah Fox on how mobile is changing information access.

Mobile Usability by Jakob Nielsen and Raluca Budiu: This book reviews the business case behind mobile and gives research-based evidence. One of the salient points in the book is the discussion in chapter 2 about responsive design. While the discussion is long, I’ll give you the last paragraph:

As discussed in the previous section, mobile versus desktop design differences go far beyond layout issues. With enough coding, these differences can be supported through responsive design. In fact, you could argue that a design isn’t responsive enough if it doesn’t accommodate all the salient platform differences. However, once you do account for all the differences, we’re back to square one: two separate designs.

Mobile UX’s Tsunami-Sized Ripple Effect: The disruptive effective of mobile on user experience and information architecture.

It’s ironic that those teams with the best developed user experience design prowess will likely struggle the most when they start to design for mobile. That’s because designing for mobile UX requires that we rethink everything we do, both on a day-to-day basis and for our long-term strategy. It touches every part of our UX work, from how we design our interactions, to how we integrate the devices. It affects how we figure out what to build and how we interact with the rest of our organizations. Who would’ve thought that something as small as a smartphone would have such a tsunami-sized ripple effect through our work?

Designing for Mobile, Part 1: Information Architecture: Gives some great layout and navigation suggestions and diagrams.

The first thing we need to understand about mobile design is that it’s different – and not just with regards to size. The physicality and specifications of mobile devices impart different design affordances and requirements. Because mobile devices are lighter and more portable, we often find it more convenient to use them. Consequently, through this more regular use, we feel a unique, emotional connection to them.

Responsive Navigation: Focuses on how people us touch devices and how navigation can look on different devices. Luke W has a lot of articles about interaction design for mobile, focusing on mobile first.

Today, most Web navigation systems are designed for a mouse and keyboard world. They’re placed prominently across the top of the screen or along the sides. In other words, everywhere but in easy to touch areas. In our earlier multi-device designs, we accounted for this convention by creating a series of navigation structures that adapted from comfortable touch zones on small screen devices to the kinds of navigation structures people have come to expect on desktop and laptop computers (top of screen, etc.).