Interview: Josh Clark on Mobile Design and User Experience

We recently spoke with Josh Clark to bring you more information about his upcoming pre-conference workshop at the IA Summit, Tapworthy Mobile Design and the User Experience.

Q: Why should someone sign up for your session?

Most newcomers to mobile assume that the big challenge of the small screen is figuring out how to cram your content into close quarters. That’s definitely part of it, sure, but there are even more substantial and subtle issues to wrestle with. Mobile design introduces ergonomic, contextual, cognitive, and even cultural challenges that are unfamiliar for desktop designers.

This full-day workshop will explore the whole complex landscape of mobile design, from sorting out the various platforms, to understanding mobile context, to finger-friendly design. That last bit is especially interesting: mobile design is not just graphic design, but really verges on industrial design. It’s not just how your pixels look, but how they feel in the hand.

Q: Why is it important that participants attend your session now?

Our world is teeming with screens, little glowing rectangles of all shapes and sizes. It’s no longer enough just to understand how to create interactive products for the desktop. Designers and information architects have to understand the nuances that come with designing for mobile devices and tablets, and how content flows from one to the other. We’re at an exciting moment where conventions have begun to develop for these devices, yet there still remains so much new territory to explore. This workshop will stake out the stable mobile-design concepts where you can stand confidently but will also peek into the new and uncertain directions where mobile design is headed. We’ll look at designing for both phones and tablets.

Q: How will your session help attendees immediately on their return to work?

The emphasis of this workshop is on practical, real-world approaches to conceiving and designing mobile apps. That includes: how to figure out which platform to design for (including native vs web app); understanding the mobile context; guidelines and techniques for designing for touch; focusing and organizing content for the small screen; creating a unique and emotionally engaging visual identity; and how all of this changes when you work with tablets.

Lots of real-world behind-the-scenes examples from some of the most popular mobile apps will illustrate these concepts, along with a bunch of nitty-gritty exercises. It all adds up to a practical toolkit for crafting exceptional mobile experiences.

Q: What are the top three things attendees will learn in your session?

  1. The three mindsets that describe why people use mobile apps — and how those must inform your app concept.
  2. How designing for fingers, and especially thumbs, turns desktop UI conventions on their head (no really: literally upside down)—and precise rules for responding to those changes.
  3. How to avoid common pitfalls when designing for tablets.

Q: Can you give us a glimpse of any surprises you’ve got planned for attendees?

I’ve got a slew of fun, hands-on exercises up my sleeve and, if this fandango comes together, we’ll have several app designs ready to roll by the end of the day. Break out the crayons, folks, and I’ll bring each of you a little gift to make your designs even better. Nuff said.

Q: What are you willing to do/offer if you sell out your workshop seats?

I’ll give everyone a discount code for 40% off my book, Tapworthy, from (or 50% off the ebook). Also, I will not teach the workshop in a shrieking falsetto.


You've heard it here, folks! Don't miss this great opportunity to learn what you need to know about mobile design. Get more details about this pre-conference workshop.