There are a few icons for directional pads, but after conducting user testing, users kept wanting to tap on it instead of swipe/pan for movement.

What have people done to suggest a component should be used for swiping or panning instead of tapping?

The hope is to avoid a tutorial and to make the interface self-explanatory.

  • 3
    Your first problem was making what was swipable a button. – Majo0od Mar 3 '16 at 4:33
  • Why you need a swipe control in first place? – Alejandro Veltri Mar 3 '16 at 14:18
  • @Majo0od Should have clarified this, but it's for camera movement similar to Minecraft's where you pan on the screen to rotate the camera and need a control to move the body. – Crashalot Mar 3 '16 at 19:14
  • If it looks like a button, that's why people are tapping and not swiping – Majo0od Mar 3 '16 at 20:38
  • OK @Majo0od what do you suggest? – Crashalot Mar 3 '16 at 21:22

Quoting @Kit-grose from https://ux.stackexchange.com/a/60383/79263

putting an icon on the screen that indicates that there is an alternative interaction can provide a useful cue.

iOS has an example with the camera button on the lock screen—tapping it once can't launch the camera immediately since that would be constantly activated by accident, but expecting users to know that grabbing the icon and swiping up is how to activate the camera is another invisible interaction. So Apple adds a tiny indication of the affordance of that button when tapped once; quickly bouncing the lock screen vertically and briefly showing the camera interface beneath it. The user learns quickly that swiping up a little further reveals a little more of the camera interface, until swiping up in one go unlocks the interface and prevents the lock screen coming back down

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So you can create a small animation of panning the screen and returning to the staring position when a user taps the button.

D-pads are 4 buttons, either on or off. So you either don't move, or you move 100%.

If you want people to drag it, you're simulating an analog stick with 360 directions and multiple intensity levels. So, use an interface that looks like an analog stick instead of like a d-pad. Pretty simple.

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I can think of two potential approaches to tackle the problem.

If people want to tap then it means the button has been designed that people expect this type of interaction, so perhaps put two buttons so people can tap to pan in one direction or another.

If you don't want people to tap on a button, the best way is not to make it work like a button, so think of a soft directional pad (or virtual joystick) on mobile phone games that the users intuitively knows to swipe in one direction or another.

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