Cut from “Mass Effect 2” (walkthrough on YouTube, forgot which one, sorry)
This is a call to software developers everywhere, developing applications of main computers (e.g., Windows, Mac OS X): Learn from Mobile Apps.
With mobile devices you have to be as user friendly as possible. Everything below the very best won’t cut it. People use mobile apps frequently but in bursts — they look up an information and they want to have the information quickly, but then they are done with it. And given that entry of information is inconvenient of a mobile device (esp. text), they want to have it as easy as possible. You can learn a lot from situations where much stronger constraints are in effect than you are normally used to — and users will thank you (through their usage but not necessarily with words) if you adhere to it.
I think that in many cases developers are already using the lessons learned in mobile apps in desktop applications. Thing is, now that users know how easy they can have it, they find it more inconvenient to be asked for information the system should know on a desktop PC/Mac.
So, if you are developing software for PCs or Mac, please think: Where can I reduce a click. It might not seem much for you, after all, what is a click, but multiply it by the time the average user uses your application, and by the amount of users you have. You’d be surprise by the amount of time you save “people in general”. Palm (when they were still a mayor player in mobile devices) had a tap counter who made sure that functions could be accessed with the least amount of clicks necessary. They were on to something. It might be as little as starting the edit mode with a double click instead of moving the cursor downwards and press edit, because if you think about it: Even the tiniest saving in time turns out to be highly relevant if you consider your user base.
Software should make things easier, enable people to do things they could not do otherwise. Great software should seamlessly integrate into the workflow of the average user, be a part of this user, an embodiment of the user’s will.
Mobile apps work in a setting (short burst of usage easily interrupted by environmental factors) that demand excellence in user interface design. Some ideas already bleed back into PC/Mac application design. Use these experience to improve your apps.