Click here to buy from Amazon.The word widget can mean a number of things, even within related Internet technologies. Even the savvy user may be confused by the lack of common terminology and the lack of any inherent meaning. The term may apply to bits of code, applets, engines, and GUI elements.

However, the scope of this book, and of this part of the book, is solely concerned with mobile GUI widgets. These widgets are display elements such as buttons, links, icons, indicators, tabs, and tooltips. Numerous additional elements (sometimes called GUI widgets), such as scroll bars, are discussed as components and functions in Part I.

The functionalities of the widgets discussed in this part of the book are to:

The widgets that will be discussed here are subdivided into the following chapters:

Types of Widgets

Lateral Access

Whether your information architecture is organized hierarchically or laterally, its presentation and access is affected by the potentially small mobile display. One option to consider is to use lateral access widgets to assist the user in quickly navigating through and selecting this content. This chapter will explain research based frameworks, tactical examples, and descriptive mobile patterns to use.

This chapter will discuss the following patterns:

Tabs, Peel Away, Simulated 3D Effects, Pagination, and Location Within.


Using an information architecture that is structured hierarchically allows content to be laid out from general to specific while depending on parent-child relationships. This drilldown, top-down approach is effective in providing users additional related content and commands within multiple information tiers.

This chapter will discuss the following patterns:

Link, Button, Indicator, Icon, Stack of Items, and Annotation.

Labels & Indicators

In some situations, it may be required to use small labels, indicators and other additional pieces of information to describe content. Mobile users each have unique goals. Some require instant additional information without clicking. Others may need additional visual cues to assist them while quickly locating information. In any case, the information labels must be presented appropriately while considering valuable screen real estate, cultural norms and standards.

This chapter will discuss the following patterns:

Ordered Data, Tooltip, Avatar, Wait Indicator, and Reload, Synch, Stop.

Information Controls

Finding specific items within a long list or other large page or data array can be challenging. Without appropriate controls to locate specific information quickly, the user experience will be quite frustrating. This chapter will discuss how widgets can be used to appropriately locate and reveal information.

This chapter will discuss the following patterns:

Zoom & Scale, Location Jump, Search Within, Icon, and Sort & Filter.

Helpful Knowledge for this Section

Before you dive right into each pattern chapter, we like to provide you some extra knowledge in the section introductions. This extra knowledge is in multi-disciplinary areas of human factors, engineering, psychology, art, or whatever else we feel relevant. Due to the broad characteristics of widgets, we find it helpful for you become knowledgeable in the following relevant areas.

Fitts’ Law

Paul M. Fitts (1912-1965) was a psychologist at both Ohio State University and the University of Michigan. 1n 1954, he created a mathematical formula to determine the relationship how long it takes a user to either select an object on the screen, or by physically touching it, based on it's target size and distance from the selector's starting point. Fitts' Law is widely used today by UX designers, human factor specialists and engineers when designing graphical user interfaces and comparing performance of various input devices.

Fitts' Law finds that

In mobile devices, we know that screen display size is limited and its space is valuable. In addition, mobile users require quick access to the content they are looking for. Using Fitts' Law together with these constraints, can improve the user experience

Wayfinding Across Content

Whether interacting on a PC, kiosk, or mobile device, your users can easily get lost when navigating content. To reduce the frustration of being lost, visual, haptic, and even auditory cues can be used to help guide the user in getting to the place he needs to be. Designing a navigation system must provide those cues to answer the following user questions:

  1. Where is my current state or position within the environment? Where am I on this page?
  2. Where is my destination? Where do I have to go to achieve my end goal?
  3. How do I get to my destination? How am I going to navigate across content to achieve my end goal?
  4. How do I know when I have arrived?
  5. How do I plan my way back? Are there alternate routes I can take?

Kevin Lynch, an Environmental psychologist and author of the book Image of the City (Lynch, 1960) determined that we rely on certain objects, to help us identify our position within an environment. Let’s examine how these objects act as cues and can be used to improve navigation:

Conspicuity with Color

Conspicuity describes how well an object can be detected, or how it captures a user’s attention amongst other noise or other competing information. While this involves legibility, and readability, it also implies other display characteristics.

Color can be used to classify, label, and emphasize information displayed on a screen. When using color for these things, you need to understand that there are limits on the ability of people to process information. Understanding of how these cognitive and physiological limits effect our signal detection is very helpful in making choices for interactive design.

Opponent Processing Theory

In 1892, A German psychologist Ewald Hering theorized that there are six elementary colors that are arranged perceptually as opponent pairs along three axes. These pairs are: black-white, red-green, and yellow-blue. Each color is either a positive (excitatory) or negative (inhibitor). These opponent colors are never perceived at the same time because the visual system cannot be simultaneously excited and inhibited.

Our modern color theory stems off of this. Today, we know that the input from the cones is processed intro three distinct channels:

Color for Labeling

Or more technically, color for nominal information coding, is used to because color can be an effective way to make objects easy to remember, as well as to visually classify.

Perceptual factors to be considered in choosing a set of color labels:

Traditionally in China, red equals "life," and "good fortune," while green means "death." This is a commonly repeated example in design of the gulf of cultural differences. However, traffic signals in China are the same as everywhere else, so controls using red as stop will still work. Whatever the culprit, cultural differences of this sort are slowly eroding.

Color Conspicuity Guidelines For Mobile Devices