Moving Beyond ‘Mobile First’ To ‘Touch First’

young child using ipad“Mobile First”, a term coined by Luke Wroblewski, means you start your design process by FIRST designing for mobile. Once you have that done, you can easily modify the design for PCs.


If you voluntarily constrain yourself to mobile, you will be forced to make decisions about what is really important and will make decisions that you would never be forced to make when designing for PC first. The result is almost always a focused, cleaner, and more usable design. And, almost as importantly: It’s easier to translate a mobile design to a PC, but usually incredibly difficult to translate a PC design to mobile.

If you’ve yet to catch up with that thinking though, hold on to your hat because it’s now time to move beyond Mobile First to TOUCH FIRST.

Early 3D Interactivity Faced Struggles

Years ago, 3D interactive content faced a computing bottleneck. The hardware never really seemed to catch up with what the software could render and web deployment seemed improbable with most applications requiring full software installs. It was a world of frustrating wait times, software licenses and other deterrents for the end user.

This left virtual training with two options:

1. Desktop standalone 3D Simulations – and like video games of that generation, these were non-portable, hard to install (must have CD/DVD).
2. Online E-learning, flash based ‘page-turners’ – basically images, text and a bit of video. In fact the only thing really interactive about them was the arrow button to turn the page.

There was once ‘Web First’

We predicted the first wave of change five years ago. The stars finally aligned for hardware and software to kiss and make up and the first decent in-browser 3D game was released. We retooled our development capability to avoid future shock and it really paid off:
A fortune 200 company engaged us to develop interactive 3D training lessons for instructor-led classroom training. And staying true to our commitment to always look forward, we prepared for Web-based deployment even though it wasn’t a priority for them then. Three years later, we were ready to meet that need when they asked for it.

Deja Vu

It’s that time again. And this time it’s all about mobile. Point of access is now more important than ever before.

In typical form, we ask again ‘Should we prepare for mobile-based deployment?’ and regardless of the answer, we are getting geared up. And we’re moving beyond mobile to the next step as well. Here’s how.

From GUI to NUI

For training, it’s actually Touch/Tablet first. Thanks to its Natural User Interface (NUI), the tablet is the hero of tomorrow’s training novel. It’s right there with you when you need it – and it sports a perfect screen size to interact with visual training content.

NUI exploits skills that we have acquired through a lifetime of living in the world” – Bill Buxton

Here are three ways you can prepare your training programs for a ‘Touch/Tablet First’ world:

1.  Don’t be in denial (read that twice, it’s THAT important). “Generation Touch or Generation T understands and anticipates gestures at a level beyond that which people who grew up with a mouse and keyboard expect. It’s apparent when you realize that the most popular and addictive apps that this generation uses have novel ways of using touch to create deeper connections.”
2.  Develop the 3D content for the Tablet as a starting point. If it renders the 3D application with limited computing power, it will certainly work on everything else above it.
3.  Design the User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI) for the Tablet as a starting point. If it provides a friction-less experience on a smaller screen, it will certainly work on everything else above it.

For example . . .

We developed 3D Interactive Training applications for DFW Instruments and designed them Touch/Tablet First, and now play seamlessly on desktop, laptops, and web browsers as well.

In the video below, notice how the user interacts effortlessly with the interface as if he or she were right there. There are no complicated drop-down menus and PC-style headers with toolbars to choose from. Designing for Touch/Tablet First forced us to strip down to essentials and in turn, made it a more usable friction-less experience (Read – Simplicity).

Check out some of our other Interactive Trainings to see more ‘in action’ examples. Has your company been designing training for Mobile First? And do you agree that it’s time to consider Touch First going forward?

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