Designing for touch interfaces

Professional Forum
Anna Offermans, The Netherlands , Ebelien Pondaag, The Netherlands

The use of touch interfaces and, more specific, tablets, has increased and the expectation is that this growth will go on. At the moment about 31% of the internet users in the US use a tablet and this is expected to grow to 47% in 2013. This growth can result in a defensive strategy towards optimizing for touch. A more offensive approach will however lead to new ways of interacting and a different (deeper, longer) engagement with your content.

It seems that touch interfaces, because of the intuitive way of interacting, challenge people to interact and play more than traditional mouse interfaces do. The challenge for us now is to incorporate this in the design and content, thus creating an optimal experience and challenge people even more to interact and start the dialogue with companies and institutions. Content literally comes closer, in your hand. Since you can use gestures, navigation elements can be hidden in favour of the content. A web experience becomes more of an app experience instead of an indexed (navigable) paperlike experience. Do we not still call them web pages instead of screens? One of the examples we can show is the new Rijksmuseum website, which will launch October 30, 2012. This website was developed in a “touch first” approach. Another example is the Dutch food and recipe magazine “Allerhande”.

As a design agency we are in the position to work on the design and development of touch interfaces for a broad range of clients. We learned a lot but also many questions arise. Is there a need for new design principles? Is this an opportunity for museums to tell another story? What can we learn from other branches? How can we bring the content closer to the user? In this professional forum we would like to discuss possibilities to change our approach of creating (interaction) design and content for touch interfaces.

We would like to bring together several insights from different projects and agencies in this forum. Both from within the museum field as outside. We are in the process of approaching other participants for this forum: other agencies as well as museum experts with experience in designing touch interfaces.