Your next UI should be designed for touch, even if you’re not targeting smartphones or tablets. Here’s why:

  • Usability
    Good touch UI design practices are good design practices in general, so designing for touch not only creates a great experience for tablets, it creates a more aesthetically pleasing, often more useable design for traditional keyboard and mouse UIs as well.
  • Efficiency
    Tablets fall into a device class that is very similar to the desktop. You’re probably already supporting iPad’s 1024 x 768 screen dimension, or something close to it. Using responsive design you can adapt to small variations in screen dimensions as needed, delivering your product to tablets and desktops at the same time.
  • Opportunity
    The market for tablets will only get bigger and is currently experiencing exponential growth. In fact, the iPad now represents 2% of Web traffic in the U.S. (source)
  • Scalability
    The giants of the market are converging on touch UI, even for the desktop. Apple’s OS X Lion is borrowing many conventions from iOS and Windows 8 is borrowing many conventions from Windows Phone 7. It’s only a matter of time before touch UI becomes a primary way to interact with the desktop.

Magic Trackpad

Apple’s Magic Trackpad enables multi-touch gestures on the desktop.

Windows 8 offers a full touch experience on the desktop.

The touch revolution is already here

Noticed anything different about your favorite Google sites lately? Google’s been busy updating the look and feel of its major destinations like search, maps, calendar, Gmail and more. The new designs incorporate larger targets, simplified iconography and an emphasis on content over chrome (not to be confused with Chrome). The changes taking place are not only more aesthetically pleasing, they are also tablet- and touch-friendly.

And Google is certainly not alone when it comes to incorporating touch UI conventions into their designs. Take a look at Flow, a recently launched productivity app, and you’ll see several examples of iPad conventions in their desktop web UI. Clearly mobile and touch were a source of inspiration for their product design.

We’re just getting started

Designing with touch in mind not only makes good business sense, it makes for better product design. Expect to see a lot more touch-friendly UI designs in the coming months.

Agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments!

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