Nowadays, there seems to be a limit to how complex you can make an application solely for touch, the controls needs a lot more space plus removal of "unecessary" tools is so much more taken into consideration. The size of Pads and phones are also a showstopper because of their limited screen real estate. And for the desktop applications, the companies won't risk as much as creating a total redesign for their complex applications. Or maybe i'm wrong.

How big and complex can a touch application be, without being impossible to use?

Is Office with the "touch friendly" Ribbon design as far as we have come?

  • 2
    "Advanced" does not mean complex. I think you are asking about complexity, the most advanced form of security can be as simple as a single password. Advances in design often mean simplicity in interaction.
    – Ben Brocka
    Sep 16, 2011 at 23:10

3 Answers 3


Depend in the input required, in the output and in the user that will use it.

However, the usual trick is to split in different level, so no matter how complicate is the screen, you can split in different screen that are easy to understand. The trick is to be consistent.

For example, we want to configure advanced wifi properties.

iOS setting :


And inside Wi-Fi


And inside Wi-fi Select

Advanced configuration

And in Android


Inside Settings

 Wireless & network
 Call settings

Inside Settings - Wireless & network

  Wifi Settings

Inside Settings - Wireless & network - Wifi Settings

 Wifi on-off
 List of Wifi
 (and using the property button you can access to an advanced configuration)

Instead for Windows (Windows 7) is

(click in the wifi network or via control panel)

it show the information directly separate in tabs.

Windows 7 require 2 step (3 if you do via control panel), while iOS require 3 step and Android require 4 step (but the configuration is more extend than iOS).


I think you're confusing advanced with complicated. I would say that the most advanced app is the one that gets the job done as easily as possible, with the fewest steps, in the most intuitive way. When you look at it like that, there are many very advanced touch applications.

Compare the mail app on the iPhone to Outlook. I think the mail app is more advanced because it does what I need in an intuitive way without distracting me with many other functions that I don't care about. To someone else it will seem inadequate.

It's a matter of opinion.

  • I will never call an easy working mail app "a big and advanced" application... But thanks for feedback! Do you have more examples? Maybe desktop applications for touch?
    – Velkommen
    Sep 16, 2011 at 14:01
  • +1 for the distinction between advanced and complicated. The most advanced app is one that seems dead easy. Sep 17, 2011 at 10:42
  • Changed title / question to complex.
    – Velkommen
    Sep 21, 2011 at 9:44

You should take a look at Media Queries and designing a responsive site. These allow you to create a fluid design that looks great on ANY device at any size. Many of the examples I have seen add to it by optimizing the images as well when a mobile device is used.

Learn more about media queries here:

About Media Queries @ mediaqueri.es

About Responsive Web Design @ A list apart

w3 info on Media Queries

It's just CSS3 and easily to implement and really saves a lot of time and resources.

  • Application, not a website :)
    – Velkommen
    Sep 21, 2011 at 9:43
  • You could still use this idea, that depending on the size, rearrange everything.
    – jonshariat
    Sep 21, 2011 at 17:33

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