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SXSW Interactive - The Contextual Web, Nick Finck

Matthew Pennell

March 10, 2008 at 12:00 AM

Digital Web’s founder and publisher, Nick Finck, on The Contextual Web:

“There are four Elements of Context – the User, the Task, the Environment, and the Technology. Who is your user and what obstacles are they facing; what task are they trying to complete; what is the environment in which they are working; and what kind of computer or device are they using? Designing interactive experiences is not limited to the web on your computer or phone – consider gas pumps, fridges, or devices like Microsoft Surface.

“Outside of the home or office, I want to access websites within a particular context – my iPhone. But if the site is not optimized for mobile, or the information I need on the move is not there, I cannot complete my task.

“Some important considerations for the mobile context: Fitt’s Law; load time (e.g. Leaflets version of NY Times); optimize your markup; optimize the UI (e.g. the Flickr homepage); content readability and page width (solution: mobile-specific site with optimised text that is readable by default); navigation also needs to optimized for the small-screen size (solution: move nav to the side or the top, make it large and easy to click on, and make in-page navigation hotspots big); ‘search-ahead’ is very useful; make buttons context-specific, e.g. click a phone number to call it.

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