• Create Intuitive Touch Gesture Control for Mobile Applications Jul 23, 2020
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    The touch screens of smart devices require the use of touch gestures to control mobile applications. The task of developers is to build interfaces that are intuitive for users to use. Although gesture control has existed since the early 1980s, it is only now that it is becoming a mass phenomenon that has yet to be studied and refined. How can it be used most effectively to create a full-fledged user experience? Let's find out.

    Widely used gestures

    The types of gestures that can be used to control a touch screen application are varied, but of course the most widely used are also considered the most intuitive. These include:

    • Touch (knock)
    • Double touch
    • Drag
    • Gather thumb and forefinger (pinch)
    • Thumb and forefinger
    • Push
    • Rotate

    A recent study shows that there are many similarities in people's perceptions of mobile application interfaces. Participants from nine countries were asked to create 28 actions using a gesture-driven interface. The results were strikingly close.


    Most people expected certain actions to be performed in the same way. To delete, for example, the most common gesture was dragging the item off the screen. Logically, the question is: are there limitations in building gesture control for mobile applications, and can there be a balance between creativity and efficiency?

    Best practices in building a mobile gesture control interface

    Smart devices have literally taken over our lives and logically the competition between mobile applications is constantly growing. In this situation, it is of great importance that the interface of the application is easy to use and as intuitive as possible. Here's how to do it.

    • Gestures that are easy to learn

    The interfaces for touch screen devices feel intuitive only when they are close to interacting with a physical object. This means that the use of user interface elements must be an abstraction of working with a real object in order to be truly intuitive.

    Most people miss the available tutorial, which is part of the process familiarity with mobile applications to "play" them as soon as they are installed and they can navigate relatively quickly, even when the interface is not perfect. However, if there is no elegant imperceptible "hand guidance" created by the app developer, the user experience may not be very satisfying. The question is how developers "teach" users to use gestures on their mobile applications without distracting them from the content.

    The best approach to creating gesture control for a mobile application is the so-called progressive discovery process. It introduces the user to control gestures as he follows his natural path within the application.

    It starts with the presentation of only the most important options for interaction with the mobile application. For this purpose, visual cues or an exploratory process can be used, which shows how the main functionalities are used the first time the user opens the application. The first option is more popular among consumers. Light visual cues such as pale arrows and animation, which serves as an indicator that the command has been accepted, are ideal tools for building a mobile interface with progressive detection.

    This process is often better perceived by users than the classic tutorial, as it shows "respect" for their ability to use their own mobile smart devices. He creates satisfaction and habits in users, which allows them to more easily learn how to perform more complex operations within the mobile application. Once the minimum targeting model has been established and people have adopted it, it simply needs to be repeated for higher-level features.

    The elegant and effective "training" of users on how to use the interface is based on the three stages of habit formation, namely:

    • Activation
    • Action
    • Feedback

    Activation is the invitation to perform the action, such as sending a push notification reminding the user to open the mobile application. At the site of the action is placed a slight hint of what gesture the user should use to achieve the desired goal. Finally comes the feedback, which is really a reward for a job well done. This is the result of the action performed within the application.

    • Gestures that free up screen space

    Developers of mobile applications are literally fighting for every square centimeter of screens, especially on smartphones, given the limited area. One of the most commonly used solutions is to hide the navigation menu. The use of gestures also helps to achieve an elegant minimalist design, which allows users to make the most of functionality and content without being distracted.

    • Gestures for customer satisfaction

    People sincerely enjoy a mobile application that is pleasing to the eye and easy to use. This is also achieved through gestures, especially when users receive "feedback" in the form of an animated and/or audible signal. Once this type of interface management is designed to be fully functional, it may be considered to improve it in order to engage users more. For example, technologies are currently being developed to give three-dimensional tactility to touch gestures.

    Discovery approach

    Following best practices in creating gesture control for mobile applications should not be at the expense of creativity. Only by applying new ideas can lasting competitiveness be achieved. Even if governance is not revolutionary, it will win people over if it is better.

    Risks to avoid when building a mobile interface with gesture control

    When using any technology, there are always pitfalls to look out for. Let's see what they are in the case of gestures to control a mobile application.

    • Meaningless gestures

    This problem can be avoided when best practices in building gesture control are applied in unison with the rules of user experience design. One of the areas in which mobile application developers need to be most careful is the use of icons and buttons with unconventional design and no text. If they are not well known and/or obvious enough, users can easily get confused and not know at all what gestures to use to perform a certain action.

    • Unfamiliar gestures that arouse dissatisfaction

    Because gesture control is always hidden, developers rely mostly on the general knowledge of users in this area. Therefore, it is extremely important to avoid confusion. A basic rule is to perform only one type of action within a mobile application with one gesture. Management must also be given special attention when testing with real users. Also, when the application is optimized and there is a change in the interface and therefore in the gesture control, it must be well explained and as intuitive as possible. Visual cues and "rewards" and especially animated ones are the main tools used for this purpose, as we have already mentioned.


    The interface, controlled by touch gestures, is here and will remain. This is guaranteed by the fact that it is flexible and easy to operate. The task of mobile application developers is to make it serve users as efficiently as possible. The best approach is to adhere to the simplest and well-known gestures and in-depth testing of the application. When new gestures of management need to be introduced, the first thing to think about is the convenience of users in order for their introduction to be smooth and for them to become truly useful.

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