Both click and touch or tap work with a similar philosophy – Seeing, Locating and Acting. In mouse usage, users locate their interest point on the screen and click. In touch, users again locate their interest, but this time they simply tap. So, where is the difference? Well, the change lies in the area of click or touch. Let’s explore what goes on in users’ minds while clicking and touching.
Let’s start with clicking. Clicking is something we are so used too, that many of us cannot survive with a mouse or a keypad. Now, what prompts users to click on a particular action? The factors include interest level (view more, for example), completion of task (like “add to cart”), context-specific content (links between information), search results and many more.
If you notice, on all of these points users would expect that the particular item is clickable, scenarios like hyperlinks (usually blue and underlined, image-conveying messages and “know more?” queries are all present. In human factors study, this is referred to as “affordance.” An affordance is a quality of an object or an environment that allows an individual to perform an action. The mistake many of us make while design is to expect and assume users will click on a particular item.
Here are some examples where users understands and clicks
Hyperlink: View More
Here are some examples where users don’t understand whether to click or just read:
Hyperlink: “iPhone 6 is going to release soon, click for more details” (here, interest level is generated to users – but users might be wondering where to click on text or on any background). The image might work fine, but if we have made the graphic to expect users to click on the image, then we call it an affordance problem.
Let’s now move on to touch theory, which is something many of us just love – with so many new-age tablets and touch phones out there. What’s the difference found in touch theory? The major difference lies in translating the moment from horizontal table to vertical plane of the screen. While mouse click is an easy action for users, touching is an action that requires some degree of precision, primarily because of size restriction (often found on mobile). There is the chance that the link or action has not been properly displayed, and that users may find it difficult to tap it even if they are able to locate it.
When we talk about iPhones, iPads, Android or Windows devices, everyone has their own way of displaying the action buttons or links. Users are highly influenced and absolutely used to these platforms, and they just love to use it. From young children to grownups, everyone is eager and willing to learn and use Apps or Games on their own. So, while customizing your App in devices, here are the basic rules:
• Don’t get too innovative while designing basic navigation. Users are very knowledgeable on how to use the device functionality. In short, don’t invent your own way of navigation.
• As often as possible, use meaningful and approachable buttons. They becomes actions that are easier to understand, learn/memorize, and act on.
Here are some unique mobile icons for Twitter, which various mobile providers use differently:
Windows phone icon
So, as you can see, in all 3, the styling may be different, but it’s made simple and touch-friendly so users can tap the icon to complete the action. To summarize, we have one main theory for both click and touch for users (See – Locate – Act), but the difference lies in the platform or device in which he/she is doing.