Mobile is just the beginning

Mobile Interaction Terminology 101

This is probably one of those totally geeky things to worry about but what exactly do we call a directional key-press on a handset?

So you have your typical navi-pad—except not all navi-pads are typical and not all are actually ‘pads.’

My Nokia 6600 has a little 5-way (left/right/up/down + click) joystick, as does my E60. My Sony Ericsson 800i has a navi-pad + something that looks like a directional joystick but can only be clicked. Meanwhile the 6680 has a more traditional navi-pad looking thing. The Razr we just gave away to a friend had a flat, shiny, space-aged looking touch pad looking thingy.

So when creating instructions, read-me’s (or even just talking to people around the office) what exactly do you call a ‘left’, ‘right’, ‘up’, ‘down’ or ‘simple (non-directional)’ key-press?

  • Click (“click left to navigate/click to start “—seems the most intuitively familiar but should we just assume that ‘mouse-like’ terminology is the most suitable?)
  • Press (“press left to navigate/press to start “—seems like something you’d do with your finger on a touch-screen rather than via a set of keys)
  • Push (“push up or down to navigate/push to begin”—sounds ok with a joystick, seems silly on a navi-pad, also sounds a tad strenuous)
  • Move (“move left to navigate/move to start:)—hmmm…’move to start’ seems just plain wrong but ‘move left/right/up/down’ has a certain ring to it (consistency would be nice though :-)

A collection of recent Flash Lite examples I have handy:

  • The Nokia S60 casual tutorial application says “Click to Start”
  • Whack Attack by DRD (now Moket) says “Press Start to Begin”
  • The MXDU conference guide by Moket says “Press Select to Access Menu”
  • Blue Sky North uses a collection of visual cues
    • PresiDance has a big red flashing “Start” button, then flashing arrows pointing left or right with the word “Select”,
    • LogJam has a downward pointing arrow with the word “Play” (which strangely responds not to a ‘down click’ but a simple ‘click’. Screen two offers the instructions “move left or right to balance on the log…”
  • We use visual cues (mostly…)

I’m personally leaning towards the big flashing visual cues—that and the word ‘click.’

Does anyone have any non-english examples? Is there this much variation in French, Japanese, Arabic…? (Does anyone but me care? :-))

3 Responses to “Mobile Interaction Terminology 101”

  1. felipe z

    I care.
    I work with mobile content in Brazil.
    We use “click” (or, in our case, “clique”) here, but i am not happy with it.
    Maybe it should be nice to choose a verb which relates with the action itself. Something as “enter”, “go”, “play”, etc…

  2. Iiris

    I work with mobile content in Finland and we use the term “scroll”. (most of our stuff is for foreign market, so we use english)
    Scroll to the left, scroll to the right..
    Of course this might suit the joystick kind of way of moving more than a regular 5-way navikey.


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