At the Adobe roadshow on digital publishing in Sydney yesterday, presenter Mike Stoddart enthused about the ability of Adobe’s latest software to allow designers to bring design principles, such as typography, back into publishing multimedia. (I certainly identified with his comments on the difficulties of conveying design principles to developers, who aren’t much concerned with white space and layout.) 

Another presentation was on how Flash can be used to take advantage of touch screen devices, opening up new ways to interact with content, and re-conceptualising media.

This all reminded me of a topic I’ve been meaning to post for a while … designing websites for touch screen devices. I’m already a big fan of white space, and loathe Amazon-like sites that just throw content at me: I find it’s mainly clutter that gets in the way of what I want. Now that I’m accessing websites on my iPad, suddenly all those intrusive advertisements and clusters of links are more than just visual pollution, they are physical hindrances to navigation. Websites designed for the mouseclick don’t allow for touch scrolling; they position advertisements in every blank space available and cluster links one below the other. When navigating on a touch screen device, it is too easy to touch an ad or another story link sitting right next to the story you want. This is extremely frustrating for the user — and  I suspect click-through rates on touch screen devices are artificially high.

So here is what I’d like to see for all websites: effective use of space to isolate elements on the site and provide a “scroll bar”. Not only will your touch screen device users return to your site, but your analytics may actually bear some relation to reality.

Note: I was planning to write on ebook availability as my next post, but work has overwhelmed me and this is still a work in progress. Soon, I promise!

Postscript: Looks like the folks at Amazon agree with me: they’ve launched Windowshop, a shopping app just for the iPad. I’ve yet to take it for a test drive.