My first and second post in this series, Life From A Touch Perspective With Windows 8 and Day 5: Life From A Touch Perspective With Windows 8, are documenting my transition to a touch experience with Windows 8 and introduced you to the Acer Iconia Tab W500 I am now using on a regular basis. This is the third post in the series.
After two weeks with the new tablet in the house and me using it on a regular basis I actually pulled my ASUS Eee PC 1000HE out to use it. I was forced to grab it because I had drained the battery on the tablet and still had some things I wanted to follow and do. I can tell the move to touch is becoming more of a natural thing because I want to touch the ASUS’s screen at times to interact with the OS! Unfortunately, I just look silly tapping on the screen over and over again.
In all seriousness, the adjustment to touch has been easy enough but it is the nuances of the user experience on both the OS and the web that has made it challenging. As I said in the first post in this series I am doing this on a Developers Preview release of Windows 8 so it is an unfinished product. That means some of these user experiences may change when the first beta of Windows 8 is released in late February.
One area that is not OS dependent is a factor I mentioned in my second post in this series and that is website programming and specifically any function that requires a mouse over event to trigger it. Usually this is related to a drop down menu but I have also discovered an issue with this in the WordPress admin pages on the posts page.
Here is a screenshot from my post listing and you will notice there are just post titles and no other info in the listing.
Now if I hover my mouse over one of those entries it reveals additional items I can click on to work on the post:
Of course on a touch tablet if I place my finger on the screen it makes a click action not a hover action and therefore takes you straight to the target of the link. Luckily, I am familiar enough with the WordPress admin interface that this is not a problem. However, on web pages that do not provide an alternative link to those destinations on the drop down menu or force their display somehow then it just creates a loop back to the page you were on.
Here is an example of having alternative links to the same info on the Yahoo! Fantasy Sports Page.
As I mentioned they do provide alternate links to the fantasy football games I participate in but I am not convinced this is for the convenience of touch users.
The other element of the user experience I mentioned in the second post is when the on screen keyboard is displayed:
I also noticed that every time I tapped into a text entry box I expected the on screen keyboard to appear for my use. What happens in Windows 8 is a small keyboard icon pops up which you must tap again to get the keyboard. I looked for a setting to make my expectation the default but did not find anything. I then realized where I got that expectation from – my Windows Phone 7 – as that is the default behavior on the handset. I think some consideration should be given to have the same behavior on Windows 8 and that in turn will also eliminate an extra tap that is necessary now.
I have since discovered that in the Metro interface on Windows 8 the on screen keyboard appears anytime I tap into a text entry box – same behavior as I experience on my Windows Phone handset. That is a good thing. The extra step of tapping the keyboard icon after I select a text entry box only occurs on the desktop side of Windows 8.
I still believe this needs to be a consistent user experience between both sides of the new OS. The last thing a user should have to see is a different result for an action while on the same OS. Enough users are already concerned about the desktop experience in Windows 8 being less than what it is on Windows 7. These types of attention to detail things are very important in the long run for both the usability and user experience.
If you’re just making the move into touch thanks to a new gift during the holidays let us know how your adjustment has been to it in the comments below.