Today, designing for mobile is the norm. Our mobile devices are intimately integrated into our daily life. Scrolling interfaces, swiping functionality, overlays and an increased emphasis on typography collectively shape our mobile experiences. Crafting these experiences and interactions for mobile requires paying special attention to where, when and how people are using a particular device.
At this year’s UXify conference, thought leaders challenged the future of UX, design and the process of creating useful, beautiful experiences. Presentations focused on migrating from desktop to web and mobile, and highlighted the challenges we face as we consider focused user interaction in context. Design that considers use in context is incredibly powerful, but what about the moments that aren’t considered? One presentation in particular spoke to the importance of designing for the in-between, or “elevator moments” so to speak.
In his presentation, Elevator Moments: Designing for the in-between, our principal consultant Justin Wear defined an elevator moment as the awkward period of time between actual work, often just long enough that you feel like you could be doing something productive but aren’t. He noted that designing for the in-between moments isn’t something that we normally hear. We’re trained to consider the user’s experience in traditional settings like the office, so why not maximize the in-between moments? We spend time throughout the day riding elevators, waiting for coffee to brew and congregating for those few minutes before a meeting. These are the moments to design for, these are the moments that people need functional design and intuitive experiences that maximize productivity.
“Enterprise apps are not always designed for context. The best enterprise apps are designed for the in-between.”
Too often we craft siloed user experiences that don’t consider all of the interactions and devices in context. Wear suggested that to make these elevator moments more meaningful we should create seamless mobile experiences that let users pick up from where they left off while working at their desk, and provide them with a way to plot out future desktop work. We often find ourselves with just enough time to briefly reflect on this morning’s meeting, outline an email response or sketch a concept. Meaningful UX should support these moments.
Wear further reflected on productivity, suggesting that rather than forcing task completion, we should allow mobile users to quickly jot down snippets and comment when inspiration strikes. Designing for these elevator moments calls for simple interactions that surface intuitive functionality and present information in ways that lead to serendipitous discovery and increased productivity.