Touchscreens Don’t Automatically Equal Good UIs

Over at the MEX Blog, Marek Pawlowski posted a great piece talking about some successes and failures of touchscreen user interfaces. Without a doubt, touchscreens are the current hot thing in mobile handsets, and many people are rushing into them with the idea that “It worked for the iPhone, so it’ll work for us”. But that’s not the case, as Marek’s chart depicting user satisfaction with the iPhone and the touchscreen-equipped Blackberry Storm illustrates.

I’ve never really been a huge fan of touchscreen devices, but I’m starting to think that’s because the bulk of my experience with them has been on devices with crappy UIs. A poor user interface is poor, regardless: I’m thinking of my experiences with touchscreen and non-touchscreen Windows Mobile devices, none of which have been particularly positive.

It’s really important for platform and UI developers to keep this in mind, especially when moving legacy software platforms over to touchscreens (ie Blackberry, S60, etc). Adding a touchscreen changes the way that users interact with a device, and it can call for you to toss out much of the existing legacy of a user interface. You may have a UI that’s great for a non-touch device, offering great ease of use, but that’s doesn’t mean it will translate instantly, easily and effectively to a touchscreen device.

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