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Episode #121 Mobile Apps - Web-based or Native? - Q&A with Josh Clark

February 23, 2011  ·  31 minutes

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With mobile quickly emerging as a viable and practical source of web based content, designers need to know how to adapt and keep up. With the sheer number of different devices out there it can be a daunting prospect. Josh joins Jared Spool in this podcast for a discussion about making the decision between mobile web and native apps.

Show Notes

With mobile quickly emerging as a viable and practical source of web based content, designers need to know how to adapt and keep up. With the sheer number of different devices out there it can be a daunting prospect. When do you need a mobile website? When should you have an app? What tools and techniques should you employ to address the needs of your users?

Josh Clark is a designer, developer and author of the book Tapworthy. He will also be joining us as one of the masters on our 2011 Web App Masters Tour this spring. And not only that, he will be presenting a Virtual Seminar with us in March. Josh joins Jared Spool in this podcast for a discussion about making the decision between mobile web and native apps.

Here’s an excerpt from the podcast.

“...in the same way that the phone demands a very different interface than the desktop, this middle ground area of tablet really does as well. So one way that I think about it is that you have your mobile phone when you're on the way to the coffee shop, but it's your iPad that you use at the coffee shop. The iPad is a device of calm and contemplation. It's something that I've observed. A lot of people, if they've got an iPad on their desk, they'll literally pick it up and go and sit in a more comfortable chair. It's something for a calmer state of mind for longer sessions than the iPhone. And of course with the form factor too, it means that your hands and fingers rest in different areas. You have to use more of your arm than just a flick of the finger as you would with the phone. So in fact when you're designing for touch, this is one of the biggest things that I think is new for designers when they approach a touch screen platform, is that you really have to think about the physicality of the device. To press a button on the iPad isn't just a flick of the wrist like it would be to move the mouse on a desktop. You have to haul your arm over. So there are honest to God issues of ergonomics to consider when you're designing for touch devices. It's entirely new to designers who are accustomed to the desktop. So what you find a lot, I think, is that it's not just a challenge of graphic design, which we as software designers on the desktop are often largely accustomed to. It's really a challenge of industrial design because these devices are just blank slates with no interface to speak of until you impose one on it. And because your interface defines the physicality of this device because it's going to be worked by hands and fingers, then it means that you have to have all these ergonomic considerations of button placement. Where's it going to be easiest for your hands to get at quickly? Is it large enough? Are the things spaced out enough for fingers? It's really like designing a physical handheld device in a lot of ways...”

Tune in to the podcast as Josh also covers these points:

  • Are the basic principles of mobile design going to stay the same for a while or are they changing?
  • How does a designer keep up with all of the different sizes and form factors of mobile devices?
  • Is it good practice to make a browser version to test limitations and get a better idea of what the native app needs to be?
  • What are the benefits of creating native apps for all the different platforms?