Gesturcons: an icon language to describe natural user interface gestures

The reality these days is that most design teams end up working in silos, whether it is between team members or between the design team and other stakeholders. Furthermore, the designers and prototyp-ers, more often than not, aren’t the actual “coders” or “builders” themselves. Disappointing, but true.

Which makes design communication as important as the design itself.

A year ago at IxDA’09, I watched Nathan Moody of Stimulant describe the challenges he faced in communicating the design and interaction of multi-touch interfaces. A year later, I think we’re further along the journey of coming up with a uniform pattern library for multi-touch interfaces, but there’s still room for interpretation, or worse, misinterpretation.

Ron George’s Gesturcons, his interpretation of communicating multi-touch interfaces, seems to cover all the bases. The goal is to find an icon language that minimizes misinterpretation, but, in my humble opinion, I think some of the Gesturcons can still be improved.

For example, using solid circles doesn’t immediately communicate that the action required is to press and hold. How about using real-world metaphors here? How about creating “pinch marks” on the outer edges of the circle? To see what pinch marks look like, pinch yourself; see the lines created by the tension? Even better, press and hold yourself using your finger. See the lines? Or imagine yourself pressing and holding down on a beach ball. See the lines?

Also, there is the issue of 2-fingered touches using 2 hands. Using Ron’s Gesturcons, I can’t help but feel that gap has not been adequately filled. Perhaps using Nathan’s icons of hands would help.

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