Friday, October 14, 2016

Consistent UI vs Responsive Design

Designing software to run on all devices has its challenges.

Users have an expectation they'll be quickly able to understand an applications functionality from the get go. Point of Sale (POS) systems are no different, speed is achieved through presenting users with simple single touch functions with little or no screen flipping.

Larger screens and tablets make navigation easy, but for smaller devices it's another story, especially if the layout is different.

User interfaces can looks different on various screen sizes.
Familiarizing yourself with software is time consuming and if layouts present differently, some trial and error is required before the nuances become apparent.

You know the drill, having mastered the software on a desktop, you then have to repeat the process on mobile devices. I'll try this button, oops not that one, swipe left, oh wait I know it's here.. somewhere! On it goes. So after becoming familiar with the layout and functions on one device, should you then have to learn it again on another?

Different screen sizes present two options for developers:
  • Use a consistent user interface with pinch & zoom.
  • Have a responsive design or native interface that matches the device size.
Each strategy has its advantages and disadvantages, the down side of responsive design is that the navigation structure is different for each screen size. Users must relearn how to navigate the product for each form factor, it can be confusing and tends to slow the process down.

What gives users the edge when operating software is navigation understanding i.e. where to next, how it works. If they know and understand the click layout, they don't have to relearn how to navigate the system.

Consistent user interfaces.

On desktops & touch screens:

Larger touch screen

Smart phones:
Android smart phone

Tablet devices:
Apple iPad Tablet

Responsive user interface design makes sense in a lot of situations however point of sale is not one of them. Pinch and zoom allows users to do what they want. It enables fast simple transfer of knowledge across all platforms.

A consistent user interface has clear advantages:
  • Pinch & zoom is well understood.
  • It's ingrained in all modern devices.
  • Offers the benefit of speed across all devices.
Cross platform functionality is a must when considering technology upgrades, but be sure to look at how the user interface maps from one device to another.

Last month we looked at the system differences in the three categories of point of sale systems.

This post gives an insight as to why we allow pinch & zoom across all devices and screen sizes.

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