3 Things that Make the iPhone Great and Translate Into Great Web Applications
Develop | Posted December 16, 2009

First, let me start with a brief disclaimer. I'm a happy user and owner of an iPhone 3GS. It's my second iPhone. I think it's a great device, but I don't use the iPhone because I am an "Apple fanboy." The iPhone works well for me until I find something that works even better.

Last month, I came across a great blog post by Dmitry Fadeyev on Usabilitypost about why the iPhone is so tough to match. Reading it, I saw parallels between Dmitry's analysis of what the iPhone does right and great Web applications.

Dmitry lays out three specific things that the iPhone gets right

  1. Flow
  2. Responsiveness
  3. Polish

Flow is about usability and workflow design. We know Web applications that are easy to use and intuitive will be more successful. Placement and organization of menus, breadcrumb navigation, good visual feedback, and consistent use of design elements all play a key role in how well a user can interact with a Web application. Today, like with the iPhone, users shouldn't have to read a manual to be able to interact with the application. Our DéjàClickis a great example of a product that makes hard things easy, and has very high usability.

Responsiveness is all about performance, selecting a menu item, or clicking a button. I have blogged in the past about just how important hard response time metrics are to the user experience.

Polish is about look and feel, making sure fonts are consistent and a tasteful palette is used. This is really the finished carpentry. Many of the more mature online entities have worked really hard to deliver a little bit of their corporate style and brand experience in their Web presence. Presentation counts for a lot once workflow and performance are addressed.

So when you're developing your next site, think about these three things that make your iPhone unbeatable by the competition, and deploy them in your design. Doing so, you're bound to improve the user experience and consequently, help you retain visitors and convert shoppers.


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