Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Human Factors – Bed Time Reading on iPad

51% of iPad use is in bed or in front of the TV – according to Neilsen. 61% percent of eReader owners use their device in bed, compared with 57% of tablet owners and 51% of smartphone owners. Sorry, I don’t have the new numbers.

Some people are trying to solve the problem – to read effectively on iPad in bed – by creating plethora of kitschy products.

That’s why as designers, it’s very important for us to understand the context of use to create user friendly applications.

I use my iPad primarily during the bed time to read news and books. In bed, when I read on iPad, lying straight on my back, my viewing area or (scanning area) becomes almost half of the iPad screen length.

Unless I am using lot of pillows (in bed) to elevate my head from the rest of my body, it’s really difficult to view the whole iPad screen easily. Of course, I can hold the iPad slightly higher to make it easier for my eyes to scan the whole screen; however, its weight adds a lot of stress on my arms if continued for a long duration.

It’s incumbent upon us as designers to recognize this problem and provide better design solutions. Let’s not get into product design here; the easy fix is to first recognize the reduced screen scan area during lying on back and design for it.

For the same reason, browser based sites with long scrolls work like a charm for me - when I reach the middle of the page, instead of lifting my head or iPad up to read the bottom half of the screen, I just swipe the page up and bring the new content to the top half. On the other hand, reader applications like “Kindle” do not work in this scenario – at all, and cause lot of annoyance and frustration. Every time I reach the middle of the page, I am forced to lift the iPad screen or my head to view the content in the bottom half.

One solution could be around creating long scrolling pages instead of using paginations. Or provide the user an option to switch between long scroll and pagination based on his context.
I am sure some of you are also facing the same problem. But, we cannot just leave the problem for others to solve for us. We are the problem solvers, we are the designers.

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