As smartphones continue to dominate the market, more and more mobile apps need to break free of the traditional online structure (four-way navigation, home and back buttons, etc.) and instead incorporate gestures such as swipe into their design. Apps already leading the charge include Yahoo Daily Digest, News Republic, Kicker Sports, and BBC News.
The expansion of the smartphone market is unstoppable.
Two-thirds of the current U.S. market and 57% of the European mobile devices market is smartphones. Ninety-six percent of all new mobile devices sold are smartphones.
In August 2013, eMarketer reported that mobile media consumption has surpassed the online share. The next obstacle will be television.
We all know this growth is awesome. But my forecast is: The speed will increase.
When you are looking on your Android smartphone or iPhone, you will see mobile Web sites and apps that are traditionally structured. It seems the developers and usability experts still have Nokia devices in their hands, with a four-way navigation button.
The main navigation is done by channels, sub-channels, and article. You will find buttons for “back” or “home” and an overall navigation bar on top or at the bottom.
The navigation tree is the same as online: three to four layers of hierarchy.
This seems to be right. The user can adapt what he learned online to navigate the mobile product.
With Windows Phone, a new interpretation of the navigation user experience (UX) jumps into the mobile arena. Microsoft tried to emphasise the gestures, the touch of a smartphone display. Swipe is the most important way to navigate content products on a Windows Phone:
- To open the general navigation.
- To switch the channel.
- To read the next article.
Android and Apple implemented these features in their software development kits (SDK), too. If you are using Safari on your iPhone or Chrome on an Android device, it is easy and intuitive to flip the pages.
In 2014, we can find more and more smartphone apps that focus on this typical smartphone gesture set: Yahoo Daily Digest (United States), News Republic (United States), Kicker Sports (Germany), and BBC News (UK). Each of these examples waive the classic online (mouse) navigation to simplify their product. And make it better to use!
The best practice from my point of view regarding this issue is Facebook Paper in the United States: a brand new concept of a smartphone social media product that puts everything in one place. Last quarter, Facebook earned 53% of its advertising revenues via mobile devices. Facebook Paper will boost this.
Make your apps touchable, too. NOW!