How do we hold our gadgets
Where does the hand and finger fall on the device? This question is the key to every form factor in this book, and the answer tells you how to design your layout for comfort and efficiency. With our phones, tablets, tablets and laptops in very different ways, it’s not surprising that each version of the touchscreen has its own UI requirements.
However, these devices also have a lot of consistency, especially in the key role of the thumb. Whether we’re on a small phone or a giant tablet, our thumbs are walking. This fact helped us to establish a robust cross-device guide. This chapter will explore why the thumb is so important, and how we can grab a screen of various sizes to reveal the basic “rules of thumb”.
Smartphones are, of course, our most important devices. We’re staring at more than 20 percent of our waking hours, and we’re consulting 221 times a day on average. Let’s start with the most familiar gadgets.
In 2013, the researcher, Steven Hoober, took to the streets to observe the phones of more than 1,300 people. He found that in almost all cases, they used mobile phones as one of the three basic tools. With 49% of the time, one-handed grip is the most popular. Thirty-six percent had their phone in one hand and another with a finger or thumb. The remaining 15 percent USES a two-handed blackberry prayer gesture with two thumbs.
The study also confirms what many of us know from our own phone habits: we often change the handshake in terms of convenience and context. We switch between the hand and the second hand, or left or right; Sometimes we get distracted while doing other things, and other times we stop and give us a lot of attention. Plus: our hands are flexible. Huber found that a third of the one-handed crossover was in the right hand – most of it was 90 percent of the right hand crossing. This means that many of us are in favor of our non-dominant hand, while writing with another hand, drinking coffee, holding a baby, or reading a book about touch design.
So, although a few of us stick to the same grasp, we show a preference for single-handed use. This is where we meet. When we hold our phone with one hand, the thumb is the only finger that can be easily clicked. Even when we use our hands, many of us like to use our thumbs. Hoober found that most people use their thumbs on the screen. Combine all these people and thumbs up: thumb drives 75 percent of all telephone interactions.
While the thumb can sweep away most of the screen on most oversized phones, only a third of the screens are truly effortless: at the bottom, opposite the thumb. For example, if you hold the phone in your right hand, the thumb naturally falls on an arc in the lower left corner of the screen, without stretching your thumb or moving the phone you need. The same arc is suitable for holding hands in the cradle of hands, but because the motion of the thumb is larger, the arc is larger.
However, comfort and accuracy are not perfect. In this comfort zone, a study of alibaba’s qian fei (which requires subscription) found that a single fan-shaped arc provided the most accurate target for thumping of the thumb. She also found that, for right-handed users, the bottom and upper right were the most inaccurate areas of the thumb.
What about lefties? The thumb is flipped from left to right. But the distinction between the left and the right is not particularly important, since most of us exchange hand CARDS in the light of context. Even so, one aspect of optimization can affect the other: the best solution is to place core functions in the middle of the screen and overlap the left and right fingers. Finally, the top and bottom are more important than the left and the right. No matter which hand you use, the bottom of the screen is the most comfortable, while the top requires a stretch. This rule applies to all mobile phone screens, no matter the size, but as the phone gets bigger and bigger, the screen tension becomes more and more intense.
The first generation of the iPhone will always have a screen with four inches or less (through diagonals) and easy to use with one hand. By mid-2014, however, a third of mobile web browsing took place on larger screens as larger phones entered the market. The devices fill the spectrum between phones and tablets, with a suspicious moniker like a tablet, with a screen size of seven inches. How my cell phone grew up and sideways.
Despite the huge proportion of flat watches, people typically deal with them as phones, and three basic tools still apply. However, unlike smaller phones, tablet users switch between the handles more frequently and almost always require the hands to operate the entire screen. In another study, Hoober and Patti Shank observed that the owner of the tablet owner had 70% of his time holding hands (requiring subscription). In 35 percent of the time, the most popular of these grips was holding a flat hand with one hand and tapping it with the index finger of the other. But the thumb is still responsible: 60% of the time, the owner of the flat hand USES a thumb or two thumbs.
With so much thumb use, the thumb area is as important to the 4 “-7” screen as the small phone, but pay attention. The civilian class USES two thumbs more often, creating a pair of mirror overlapped thumb areas at the bottom of the screen, with a chunk of untouchable space on top. Although popular, the two-thumb area is not the best option. While we only have 25 per cent of the time with a single hand holding a flat hand, the grip of a single thumb is not proportional to the designer, because it has the smallest range.
This brings us to our all form factors of the first rule of thumb: always hold the most restricted grip, so no matter how the user choose holding device, people can make use of your interface. On the tablet, that means designers should aim at a single thumb grip.
It’s a tricky surprise: the one-handed area is smaller for a phablet than a phone. As the size of the phone increases, the thumb region remains roughly the same shape and position (anchored to the bottom of the screen) until the size reaches the critical point, where the grip moves to stabilize the tablet. In this hand, most people swipe their little finger under the phone to keep it in place and narrow the range of the thumb.
Even if you can’t touch the screen with your thumb, some thumbs are going to be able to “suffocate” on the phone and slide the handle to a higher position to extend your thumb. On a flat watch, the handle is more of a thumb than the traditional handle at the bottom of the screen. We will look at the significance of this at the end of this chapter.