I’m currently working on some iOS apps, thinking about user experience, and at the same time reading stuff on an iPad and I’ve come to a conclusion: scrolling text is totally stupid. It has no analog to any previous human experience. And here’s the thing: that human experience even includes scrolls.
Even when paper scrolled, the text was organized in columns. Columns (and pages) make sense because you know where to continue reading when you’ve gotten to the end of a segment.
Device scrolling, though, is tedious because you never know how much distance has been scrolled by your finger flick. Instead of going back to the top left, you have to scan up and down to find out where you’re supposed to be:
This is another example of design for novelty rather than use. “It’s new so we gotta use it,” as opposed to “maybe what’s already working actually works.” This is, I think, a real minefield for designers – if we view ourselves as designers, we feel like we have to design something, but if we view ourselves as consultants, maybe we can advise against novelty for its own sake.
This is novelty design in that it feels like it was meant to take advantage of touch screen devices – design for the gadget’s capabilities, not design for the user’s um, use.
The good news is, everybody totally reads this blog and does what I say, so we can for sure look forward to at least having the option of paging through documents and magazines on the iPad from now on. World, you’re welcome.