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I'm working on a new platform for mobile. In this platform, the gesture of swiping left (from right to left) acts differently in different contexts.

  • On an object (a rectangle with details) it opens more options inside the object
  • On a row, of a list, it opens one option
  • On a canvas, it moves between screens

Does having many different behaviors for the same gesture make sense to you?
Are there any conventions on the behavior of swiping left/right?

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2 Answers

Having multiple behaviors for the same gesture makes sense to me if the behaviors are similar and are all on local objects/contexts.

In your case, since the swiping sideways acts as a change screen action, overloading the gesture to an expand/open action does not make sense.

I would go with a double tap or long tap to expand/open items (rows/objects) instead.

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I would use swipe as a shortcut, and never as the only mean to accomplish an action.

That said, it is best if the gesture invokes "compatible" actions: like "swipe left always opens more options", even if it does it on different contexts. This way it is easier for the user to learn the gesture. If it works very differently in different contexts the user will feel more insecure, as it is difficult to form and accurate mental model.

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