Rethinking User Experience on Mobile

I’ve been building responsive websites for a few years now, and generally consider myself to be fairly knowledgeable on the subject.

There are some established patterns that I tend to follow – dropping the sidebar below the main content, hamburger icon in the top right, etc. – and I generally feel pretty comfortable with responsive design and the challenges that it presents.

There’s one thing that all the reading about, and the implementation of, responsive design just can’t replace: actual experiences.

Earlier this week, I traded in my iPhone 4S for an iPhone 6 Plus.

I decided to go for the 6 Plus for a few reasons, chief among them being the fact that the iPhone 6 in Space Gray was on backorder for a couple of months… I didn’t want a white or gold one and I’m honestly just not that patient.

To say that my perspective on interacting with sites on a mobile device has changed would be an understatement. The iPhone 6 Plus has a gorgeous screen, everything looks so much more clear and crisp, text is so much easier to read, and being my first foray into LTE, it’s incredibly fast.

But the screen is enormous, which means the buttons seem so far apart.

In the past, I’ve always used my right hand to hold the phone and my right thumb to interact. That method of use is virtually impossible with the new iPhone 6 Plus, because the size of the phone almost dictates using two hands to interact with it (unless you have giant, NBA-sized hands).

I find myself having to move my hands to tap the top right hamburger icon, or tap the logo to return to the home screen. An interaction that is expected, and somewhat unavoidable, on tablets (which I use very, very little).

It’s a topic that Luke Wroblewski has talked about in far more depth – but even having heard his talks, it’s something that never really sank in until I experienced using a phone as large as the iPhone 6 Plus.

The experience has me rethinking the way that I approach user experience on mobile devices, challenging some of those established responsive design patterns that I mentioned earlier… like, what if hamburger icons shifted to the bottom right for a certain class of devices?

All in all, I really like the phone. It’s taking some getting used to the size, but I do love the large screen… and quite enjoy the way that it’s challenging the way that I think about responsive design.

5 WordPress Plugins You Should Be Using

One of the greatest things about WordPress is the flexibility you get from the incredible number of plugins that are available. There are plugins for just about anything you can imagine, some of them functional and some for fun. Here is my list of five WordPress plugins that I think everyone should be using, whether you’re a casual blogger or a full-scale media company.

1 – Akismet

Comment spam is rampant and Akismet is easily the greatest combatant you can find. It will save you hours upon hours of moderating comments, so you can focus on writing more content. Akismet gives you statistics, within your dashboard, of how many comments it has blocked, so you can watch it work.

2 – W3 Total Cache

This is an extremely handy plugin that improves the overall load speed of your site. Slow loading websites are extremely frustrating for your visitors and could cause some of them not to return. Improving the load speed of your website even helps with your rank on Google.

3 – Really Simple Facebook Twitter Share Buttons

I’ve tried a lot of share button plugins and this is by far my favorite. The settings menu is very easy to navigate and has a ton of great options. The plugin does exactly what you ask it to do, so you never have to worry about it.

4 – Related Posts via Categories

Having links to related posts on your site is great for a variety of reasons. First of all, it’s great for search engine optimization. It also helps keep visitors on your site; which is what we’re all aiming for, right? Related Posts via Categories adds a list of a specified number of posts at the bottom of each individual post page.

5 – Login LockDown

Login LockDown helps to keep your WordPress site secure from brute force password discovery. The plugin records the IP address of each failed login attempt and if more than three failed attempts are recorded within five minutes, it locks that IP out.

Are there any plugins that you love that I haven’t listed? Let me know in the comments!

[Image courtesy: Kk+]