Touch on Desktop

John Gruber:

But why put the touch/tablet UI on all PCs? A touch-optimized UI makes no more sense for a non-touch desktop than a desktop UI makes for a tablet.

Most of the things required for a great touch user interface are also good ideas on the desktop. Large touch targets, fast, responsive1 user interfaces, a simple, intuitive information architecture, uncluttered screens that don’t offer too many different features, easily understood screenflows, lightweight applications, simplified window management — all of these things work on the desktop just as well as on a tablet.

In fact, for the average user, the current tablet operating systems would probably make for better desktop operating systems than the current desktop operating systems.

You can’t port a desktop UI to a phone. Going in the opposite direction, on the other hand, might just work.


  1. It’s really too bad that the term «responsive» has come to mean «adaptive to different devices». Now I can’t think of a good term for «reacts immediately to user input». back

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If you liked this, you'll love my book. It's called Designed for Use: Create Usable Interfaces for Applications and the Web. In it, I cover the whole design process, from user research and sketching to usability tests and A/B testing. But I don't just explain techniques, I also talk about concepts like discoverability, when and how to use animations, what we can learn from video games, and much more.

You can find out more about it (and order it directly, printed or as a DRM-free ebook) on the Pragmatic Programmers website. It's been translated to Chinese and Japanese.