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Design for Touch First, Not Mobile

Design for Touch First, Not Mobile

Throughout 2013 we kept on hearing about how we should be designing and developing for Mobile first – everyone is mobile they say. Designing for mobile though sets you up for issues down the road as you expand to desktops, laptops and tablets.

We should all be designing for Touch first, not mobile first. Touch is the one form of interaction that now spans across all the devices we use everyday, touch is the future not being mobile.

Our phones are touch, our tablets are touch, kiosks are touch and now with Windows 8 on laptops and desktops – every device is now touch friendly. If you want to have a consistent, powerful experience across all your devices, then you should be focusing on designing for touch first.

As laptops and desktops with touch displays continue to be the new norm, people will expect the applications they use to be touch friendly. In the past week alone I have heard several people talk about how they keep trying to touch their old non-touch laptops now that they have been using Windows 8 on tablets. My laptop screen has numerous fingerprints on the screen from me trying to tap a button or swipe across the screen – not having touch on my old computers is surprisingly quite frustrating. I cannot wait to upgrade all my hardware to new touch-based devices.

Many people seem to think that having a touch interface is slower, will cause you fatigue by holding your arm up all day as you touch the screen or that it simply gets in the way. Touch isn’t meant to replace your mouse and keyboard, touch is there to compliment them – especially on your laptop or desktop. It’s much faster to tap a button quick with your finger than it is to try and move your mouse over the button and click. If your buttons are too small, touching becomes much more difficult and tedious – that’s why you need to design for touch first.

When you design for touch, you are inherently designing for mobile – the opposite however is not true.

People constantly say that Microsoft is no longer innovative and never does anything interesting. I think Microsoft advances technology way more than people think, they just do it in a more subtle, long-term way. One of those ways is the advancement of main-stream support of touch based laptops, desktops and of course software with Windows 8.

Within the next year, touch will be an expected experience and not Google nor Apple is ready for this new experience.

What has your experience been with touch based devices? Do you own a touch based laptop or all-in-one desktop?