I was wondering if anyone could share findings/research/thoughts into the usability of gestures on mobile websites (not apps).

Apps like Gmail allow users to swipe emails to perform certain actions, however I cannot find controls like this on mobile web or even a reason why I cannot find them. I assume that the reason is because of the conflict with the mobile browser interpreting that swipe?

The only gesture examples on mobile websites I can ever find are galleries etc.

Can anyone enlighten me?

I work in the mobile sphere and we have terrible trouble with gestures.

Firstly, everyone wants them. What a lot of clients fail to appreciate is Gmail et al are purpose built apps where the gesture usual conforms to an action, so broad use isn't appropriate.

Secondly, there's often little visual indication that a swipe gesture is available, so in a UX/UI sense they're not a good experience and do not lend themselves to bespoke app actions.

Finally, we have issues with native screen functions, which often rely on a gesture from the extremities of the screen, often interfere with the gesture of the client. As we can't guarantee the accuracy of any client interaction or the users ability level, it's something that can't be controlled very easily. Unlike a button, which is pressed and has events.

That doesn't mean to say they do not have their place.

  • Thanks for your insight. This was what I suspected. Do you have any example of when these have been implemented well? – Delta Apr 23 '15 at 15:01
  • I thought about you comment last night Delta and couldn't think of one. Then I went to bed and started reading my book on my iPad and swept in from the right to flip the page, thus giving me, and you, a good example! – DarrylGodden Apr 24 '15 at 7:42

The issues with using gestures in mobile sites is more of a developmental limitation, in my opinion. In the event of an error, you risk losing essential functionality if a gesture is key in navigating throughout a site. We see gestures in apps because they are developed for specific devices using the method that is made FOR that device (i.e. Swift, etc). When developing for mobile web, the site needs to functional across all platforms (iOS, Android, Windows Phone) using the same code. However with HTML5, we're seeing support for touch events right in your browser, so this could change as time goes on.

Maybe someone with a more extensive development background can chime in here.

Here's an article about HTML5 touch events --> http://mobiforge.com/design-development/html5-mobile-web-touch-events

w3c --> http://www.w3.org/TR/touch-events/#the-touchstart-event

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