Penelope Rance

My UX research & design ramblings

Book Review - Designing for Touch

A couple of years ago I received a selection of books from A Book Apart. Although they are mostly quick reads, there are a lot of them and so I am still working my way through them. So last week I read Designing for Touch by Josh Clark.

Book with light green cover on table.
Designing for Touch by Josh Clark

I do not really do any design now as I am more interested in doing research, but I still found this an interesting read.

Josh starts by explaining how people use their touch devices. This might sound a bit straight forward as we all use our phones all the time. But it did make my journeys on the tube more interesting as I watched how people were using their phones and tried to collect the whole ‘set’.

Spoiler alert: we mostly use our thumbs.

Interestingly, even though he was writing about all touch screen devices, from phones, through to touchscreen computers, people still seem to use their thumbs a lot - screen size does not seem to matter.

So it is important when we start thinking about our designs that we take into account that people need to be able to reach the important things with their thumbs.

He then guides you through the variety of gestures that can be used and how we can make it easy for people to find them.

Findability is probably the biggest thing stopping people from using your design to its fullest. While a button has all sorts of affordances to help the user understand that they can click it - for instance the shape, colour and wording on the button, other parts of a web page will be less obvious.

How are people to know that they can swipe through content? Or how to zoom in? Josh goes through some really nice ways of helping to coach your users into using the full range of gestures.

This was a really interesting read that covered a lot of ground. Anyone who is designing for devices that use touch (that’s pretty much any designer designing for the web or smart phone apps) should read this book. It will remind you of things you already knew, and help you to understand even better what your users need help with.

⟨⟨ Previous | Blog home | Next ⟩⟩

Contact Me

If you have any questions about my work please feel free to contact me.

Email me on or find me on Twitter or Linkedin.