Designing User Experience – Not Just For Users But Also For His Thumb
Dec 06,2016

Thumbs up to device makers who finally understood the importance of larger screens for facilitating ease of use. These devices are friendly to our thumbs, I mean easier for navigating with the thumb.

Yes most of the mobile audience now navigate through thumb, the very part of our body that makes us different from other animals. As we browse through thumb on the go or on the casual seating, apps should take care of this and ensure greater comfort for navigating through thumb. So, any app must ensure designing for ease of thumb navigation than just so called user experience.

Why thumb is important for mobile devices and apps are understandable from a few market insights. As per a study conducted by Adobe in 2014 mobile browsing through phones having 4” or smaller screens decreased by 11%. We all know already that thumb based navigation is challenging for smaller devices. Now, major apps are also focusing on the same aspect. From the latest Facebook app to Google inbox, you can learn this thing from the leaders as well.
As learning to design for thumbs is more important than ever device manufacturers are also producing screen sizes typically with similar dimension ranging from 5.1” to 5.7”.

Mobile Thumb Zone?

Mobile Thumb Zone

While building and designing a mobile interface, all major navigational elements must be located around reachable area for the thumb and this zone in the mobile screen real estate is referred as Thumb Zone.

What should be the Mobile Thumb Zone for the right handed users? Yes, we are talking being slightly partial to the right handed users since they are the bulk majority of users. The common rule for designing keeping thumb reach in mind is simple. You need to keep the important elements within the reach of thumb while keeping the less important and less used elements outside the thumb zone.
Is Thumb Zone a constant thing or does it vary? Well, it may change with different user and device types as the size of the hand and screen dimensions can differ in different use cases and scenarios. Keeping this thing in mind the app design must make thumb reach easier for variable device screen sizes and hands. Striking a balance point as per the mid point of dimension can be effective to address the variations.

Thumb Movement In Touch Screen

Thumb Movement In Touch Screen

Let us once more draw attention to some recent statistics. As per Hoober’s research 49% of users hold their smartphones in just one hand and vast majority of these users mainly rely on thumbs for navigation. Some other researchers even say that 75% of users interact through thumb over the touchscreen.

As most designers agree there is no enmity between designing for the right thumb and left thumb. In spite of the priority right handed users get, here the design principles do not leave the left handed users in the lurch. The advanced thumb zone mapping techniques helped designers to find a combined zone for both types of users.

Gestures For Thumbs

Why there is so much fuss about thumb in a mobile app design? Well, it is because most of the gesture inputs on screen like tap, double-tap, swipe, drag, pinch, press, etc will be felt lot easier for the users when the clickable and interesting areas are located around the thumb zone. So, as app developer and designers you just cannot do without thumb zone.


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