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I am building an app (iOS) which consists of paged tiles which the user has to pan through.

My question: When I need to tell the user to move the content up to view the content below it, should I say swipe up or swipe down?

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You should use neither of them. When you are referring to vertical content, you should say "scroll up" or "scroll down".

Vertical content movement has been used for decades now, and there is no good reason to change the terminology. Yes, you are swiping, but you shouldn't refer to how it is done, just what you want to achieve.

We say "click on X" not "move your mouse so that the cursor moves to X and then click your mouse button". How something is done can change, but what you want done should as much as possible be independent of the technology being used.

  • To back up your first statement, your example should be "we say select X" rather than click. – DA01 Apr 29 '13 at 0:08
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Yes. Apple use the terms "swipe up and swipe down:

http://www.apple.com/iphone/iphone-5/tips/

The Apple HCI Guidelines may be of use here in conveying defined actions:

On avoiding redefining gestures: https://developer.apple.com/library/ios/#documentation/UserExperience/Conceptual/MobileHIG/UEBestPractices/UEBestPractices.html#//apple_ref/doc/uid/TP40006556-CH20-SW22

Apps respond to gestures not clicks: https://developer.apple.com/library/ios/#documentation/UserExperience/Conceptual/MobileHIG/Characteristics/Characteristics.html#//apple_ref/doc/uid/TP40006556-CH7-SW4

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Just say swipe. No one ever looks up for information. Think about the worst case scenario- fraction of a second lost if they make the wrong choice.

  • I guess it's not a big deal if it is the only thing wrong with the interaction. But if I've had other problems interacting and I can't figure out what "swipe" means? That'd probably be the point I stopped trying. – David Clarke May 8 '13 at 23:56
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Use "Swipe Down" as this is consistent with the movement of Scrollbar which we SCROLL DOWN to see the content lie underneath.

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    Except you don't swipe the scrollbar, you swipe the content. – DA01 Apr 29 '13 at 0:13
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should I say swipe up or swipe down?

It depends. Which way does the user have to swipe to perform the interaction?

If they have to swipe in the direction from the bottom of the screen to the top, then obviously say 'swipe up'. If they have to do the reverse, say the reverse.

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