Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Widgets, mobile and atomized services

Interesting thoughts from Lorcan Dempsey:

Talking about mobile devices, but one point in particular is very relevant to widget design

"Atomization: get to relevance quickly. Mobile encourages designers to think of atomic services rather than complicated workflows or rich multilayered experiences. And to think about services that are immediately relevant and convenient. Room or equipment booking or bus time tables may become more visible, for example."

The simplest widget just takes an existing web page and puts it in a box - but this really isn't a very effective use of the medium.

When we're discussing ideas, a question we ask ourselves is "what makes you want to turn this into a widget?" Just because you can doesn't mean you ought to.

A few possible reasons:
  • You want to make services/information available outside traditional interfaces i.e. in social networking sites
  • You want to isolate a particular, commonly used service and provide a streamlined way to access it
  • You want to bundle a few related services/bits of information together around a particular set of workflows
I suppose the "widgetisation" of an interface is to do with how and where you want access to happen. But the restrictions (i.e. space) on widget development make you think very hard about use.

In a nutshell, it seems to me that widget development is about providing relevant services in a context. You could probably say this about all development, but there's something about widgets which concentrates the mind!

1 comment:

  1. On a similar note, it struck me that the notion of apps as something that provide often a single function for a particular context means that on certain occasions we might do well to think of "apps" as sohort for "(information) appliances" rather than applications?