Gesture Recognition is yet an unexplored lighthouse in the grand ocean of the UX. Starting from taps and twists to an endless list of facial and hand gestures, it is being explored across a wide array of electronics right from computers to smartphones, music players, and watches.
So, what is an in-app gesture? What is gesture recognition? Gesture Recognition includes touch mechanics (what your fingers do on the screen) and touch activities (results of specific gestures). In-app gesture is incorporating gesture recognition in mobile applications. Though the prominence of in-app gestures has taken huge leaps, in-app gestures are commonly found ‘hidden’ inside mobile applications. Thus, endless coding hours of a developer ends up as a blog with titles- “5 Hidden Gestures inside your Android smartphone.”
The key is to communicate and exhibit gestures in a way that it not only delivers seamless user experience but also creates a product identity. For instance, take Tinder, a social media platform. It became an overnight sensation and gained an edge over the competition with a simple swipe left and right gesture. With one unique gesture and few good marketing tricks, Tinder experiences more than 1.6 billion swipes on daily basis with 50 million fingers swiping the screen to make Tinder a $3 billion app. Another chatting application, WeChat, managed to gain user attention with a simple swipe gesture. They make your message travel inside a bottle across the seven seas with the swipe of a finger. Now that’s cool. With more than 864 million active users, WeChat’s founder Ma Huateng became China’s second richest man. To achieve such marvels, your in-app gesture must be able to fulfill at least these four objectives:
1. Convey Your Gestures as Dialogues, Not Monologues
Imagine you had a hectic day at the office and, all you want to do is doze off while listening to soothing songs. But, as soon as you access YouTube, the app welcomes you with 14 tutorial cards of their gesture updates. It won’t be a pleasant experience for Chad Hurley and Steve Chen as well. It is essential to communicate gestures in a way that they are not too flashy and are not ignored by the app users. To attain such status, communicate gestures as a quick and convenient way to perform an action; that is, deliver it in the context of the action.
2. Create and Scratch Out the Task List of Implied Gestures
In your WhatsApp conversation, it is obvious that... ...means happiness and...
...means anger. In the same manner, it must be obvious for mobile app users that with a tap, files open in any file manager app, and with a spread/pinch, an image will zoom in/out. Gestures must come naturally to the users. Design interface with implied in-app gestures ensures a seamless app experience.
3. Deliver Gestures as Convenience, Not as Confusion
Imagine a racer entering a race car and facing the interface of a pilot’s cockpit! Even though it is more advanced and efficient, it is as useless as a radio to the deaf. So, gestures must be placed in a manner that it passes with flying colors in the delivery of convenience to the app users. For instance:
Gesture functions in Apple’s iMessage:
Tap with one finger to send a circle.
Press with one finger to send a fireball.
Tap with two fingers to send a kiss.
Tap and hold with two fingers to send a heartbeat.
Tap and hold with two fingers, then drag to send a heartbreak.
Imagine the horror of a person who wished to send a heartbeat to his better half on Valentine’s Day and instead sent a heartbreak!
4. Replace Scrolls With Swipes
This is more like a viral trend rather than a proven strategy; it was led by Tinder and followed by many. The concept is termed "card stack design" and the idea is to avoid scrolls and introduce swipes. Cards are an enhanced way to convey any content and ensure better user engagement. Cards allow users to sneak a peek and that is when users feel they are in authority. It is like leaving the breadcrumbs to the users to keep them engaged and eliminate the factor of distraction.
Apart from these four functionalities, to revolutionize your app, think of one unique gesture that:
Defines your product.
Users can relate to their daily life.
Fulfills an important purpose of your application.
There is an amazing change in the wind of this mobile UX ocean and the waves are dying to touch the bay of in-app gestures. To sail your app safely to the "land, ho" of greatness, make sure you say "heave-ho" towards the direction of the wind.
Hang on a bit, you must be thinking, "How can you think of that one unique gesture," right? That part will be discussed in the next interesting chapter of the saga of in-app gestures. So stay tuned with Cygnet! But don’t just wait till then, why don’t you pour your insights on this topic? Comment your approach on how you will plan for that one unique in-app gesture before we reveal the clues in our next blog.