Don’t make me type: It's holding back the mobile experience

Don’t make me type: It's holding back the mobile experience

Summary: With typing a major culprit in bad user experiences, the day of keyboardless smartphone can't come soon enough.


The culture-meets-technology conference, dConstruct 2012, was a veritable tonic for my mind and soul. MC Jeremy Keith curated and presented with suave aplomb, and the lucky, lucky audience were treated to novelists, playmakers, star-gazers and back-to-the-futurists.

A particularly "Wow, of course" moment came with Scott Jenson's talk on Beyond Mobile:

"On a mobile the browser is the ghetto".

His words resounded: the browser is the operating system within the operating system. And that address bar? That address bar is a command line.

Don't make me type
Please, don't make me type on my mobile.

To paraphrase Steve Krug, please, "Don't make me type".

If any of you have had to type a URL onto a mobile browser, you will have felt this pain. I have taken to creating bookmarks on my laptop Chrome browser, which sync up on my mobile, and then add them to a folder on my mobile desktop. This way, looking up a word, train time, pub quiz Wikipedia answer is only one click away. Oh yes, and then some typing.

The alternatives to this ham-fingered typing malarkey are the trusty old hyperlink, those swipey, pinchey gesture things. And, of course, the rise of the voice-activated machine, Siri and her cohorts.

I'm looking forward to the day of the keyboardless mobile. Until such time, keep any eye out for speeling mistakes, predicted text and other bad user experiences.

Topics: Emerging Tech, Mobility

Jake Rayson

About Jake Rayson

A web designer since the 20th century, I am a pragmatic advocate of Free Software and I use proprietary software when appropriate. I made the full-time switch to Linux back in 2007, and my desktop tools of choice are Linux Mint, Inkscape, GIMP and Sublime Text.

As a Front End Developer, my core skills are HTML5, CSS3 and jQuery, and my working life reflects my commitment to open standards and accessible websites (ie accessible by everyone, regardless of browser, platform, ability or technology).

For web publishing platforms, I use WordPress for ease of use and Drupal for more complex solutions.

I am also learning about Ruby, Rails, Sinatra and CoffeeScript. I like the minimalist Ruby Way. To this end, my personal portfolio website is built with NestaCMS.

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  • A keyboard anyday of the year

    It might not be perfect, I'd accept also some written text recognition, but never, ever I'm going to talk to a machine unless it's of Star Trek Data's design...

    The only time I speak to my phone is when there is a human at the other end of the line... Never will I give it a command or ask a question to a machine.
  • You say that now

    In 5 years time, I can guarantee you'll be saying it to Data, your new mobile phone/friend ;)

    If there _is_ a different way to input other than typing and talking, I'd love to know.
    Jake Rayson
  • If you can't type on it, its a useless toy ...

    unless you actually try to talk on it!