The Intimacy of Mobile

Posted on September 10, 2012

Being intimate is a great thing. It’s being close to something, focused on something and concentrating on it. It’s about a purity of interaction, and an expectation to get something amazing back.

When we look at how people use devices and how they interact with them, there is a huge difference in the interaction with a mobile touch device and a traditional computer. With a mobile touch device, the user is directly in contact with the content or application they wish to interact with; whereas with a computer there is always an input method, a mouse, trackpad or keyboard in the way. The need to use this third device to for the interaction reduces significantly the intimacy of that interaction. This effect can be seen in the image of Steve Jobs above.

Hence mobile touch devices are more intimate, and that has an impact on how we need to design for them and what use-cases we can expect to be applicable. It also has an impact on the psychology of a user, and that can be very important for many types of interaction. Whereas a mobile touch device is intimate, a computer is much more utilitarian.

Hence, when design a mobile touch solution, it is essential to consider how the interaction can be made more intimate, and realize that it will be different in many ways from a computer-based interaction because we’re in a context shift from utilitarian to intimate.

That intimate interaction design can lead to a more direct impact on the users’ experience and it can be expected that they will form a stronger, bond to with the interaction that they are having.

For any application that is trying to either build a relationship with a user or sell them something, this is a really important concept to consider and to include in any and all designs.