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Chapter 8. Mobile Design

When building mobile experiences, it is impossible to create a great experience without three ingredients: context, information architecture, and visual design. This chapter focuses on the latter ingredient of the recipe. The visual design of your experience is the direct representation of everything underneath; it is the first impression the user will have. A great design gives the user high expectations of your site or application; a poor design leads to lower expectations.

Users’ expectations translate to value and trust. In the mobile space, where content is often “free” (they still need to pay for data charges), users often have low expectations, due to the limitations of the canvas. Confusing site structures and slow download speeds reinforce those initial low expectations. In the downloadable application space, where application design can be much more robust, users must purchase applications almost sight unseen. For example, they may see just a small screenshot of your application or game. But if the application doesn’t meet the higher expectations of the design, your application downloads will drop like a stone. The design, that first impression, determines right from the start if the user will spend five seconds, five minutes, or five hours with your product.

This leads us to the most significant challenge in mobile design: creativity. You can’t always be as creative as you want to be. Many devices just can’t support complex designs for every channel; ...

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