The Body Rule: The Best Mobile Products Operate by Beauty - mobilized: An Insider's Guide to the Business and Future of Connected Technology - S.C. Moatti

mobilized: An Insider's Guide to the Business and Future of Connected Technology - S.C. Moatti (2016)

Chapter 2. The Body Rule: The Best Mobile Products Operate by Beauty



image To be successful, mobile products must be beautiful. Beauty in mobile comes from efficiency and “wow.”

image Efficiency: Nothing on mobile is wasted. Mobile designers make sure their products pass the thumb test.

image Wow: Beautiful mobile products trigger strong emotions. Mobile designers make sure their products pass the mom test.

image Mobile products need to work anywhere, so mobile designers need to carefully consider all the environments in which they’ll be used. The products need to work like extensions of our bodies.

image Mobile designers rely on two types of design elements to build beautiful products: focusing and expanding.

image Case studies discussed in this chapter: Airbnb, Amazon Echo, Clara, Flipboard, Instagram, iPhone, KnockKnock, Pandora, Slack, and TrafficAlert.

Centuries ago, in medieval China, an emperor decided he wanted the most beautiful painting of a dragon ever made, so he commissioned it to be painted by a famed artist. The artist retired to a cave in a forest and started sketching.

Following months of intense effort, he returned to the emperor with his masterpiece.

The emperor looked at the painting. Disgusted by what he saw, he had the painter executed on the spot and the painting burned. What had the artist drawn?

Two parallel S-shaped curves, which seemingly could have been drawn by any calligrapher.

Years later, during a hunt, the emperor got lost in a forest. While resting, he noticed a cave and wandered in. On the walls were hundreds of dragon sketches. Realizing that this was the cave where the artist had gone, the emperor followed all the iterations, one by one—until he finally landed on the two simple curves.

The emperor realized the artist was right: the dragon had been perfectly captured by these two simple yet masterly lines. The lines were beauty.

The remorseful emperor named the forest after the artist.


I love this story. Beauty is so confounding! It baffles us.

Does beauty have a cheat sheet? Is there a surefire recipe to attain it that could help us avoid the emperor’s mistake?

It’s hard to argue with the fact that successful mobile products are beautiful. Picture the iPhone, Instagram, Airbnb, Flipboard. We can recognize beauty in these products and services, but no one can quite put their finger on it. Turns out, defining beauty has been a challenge for centuries.

To arrive at a definition of beauty that might help us create winning mobile products, let’s look at how people define beauty in the arts. First, objectively: beauty is efficiency. Second, subjectively: beauty is wow. We will start with the objective definition.

Beauty and Efficiency: Nothing Is Wasted

The ancient world, particularly Ancient Greece, believed that beauty is quantifiable and objective. They discovered that everything in the universe could be explained by math.

Greek architects and sculptors devised the famous Golden Mean,20 a perfect balance of symmetry, proportion, and harmony that could be expressed mathematically. Greek mathematician Pythagoras even applied this objective evaluation to music. He found that the relation between harmonious sounds is a simple numerical ratio, which became the basis for all music theory.

These objective definitions of beauty ruled the European art world for centuries. In the late eighteenth century, the French Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture had a quasi-monopoly on taste. It organized art exhibitions, such as the Salon de Paris, showcasing what was deemed at the time the most beautiful artwork in the world.

But just when the French believed they had reached an objective definition of beauty, it escaped them when a group of artists, including painter Édouard Manet, whose work had been rejected by the Salon, started a movement—Impressionism—that would turn art on its head.

Impressionist artists purposefully covered their canvasses with hundreds of visible brushstrokes to emphasize light, texture, and movement in the composition. Traditionalists countered that the paintings were ugly, that they didn’t look exactly like their original subjects. But Impressionism endured to become one of the most influential movements in the history of art.

Impressionism was a wake-up call for the art world, a reminder that beauty is polarizing. Some people will love a piece of art; others will hate it.

Remember the example of the Chinese dragon? The emperor didn’t recognize how beautiful it was until he understood the artist’s approach. Then he came to love it.


Dragons and Impressionist paintings may not be for everyone in the twenty-first century, but mobile products are. They have to be. As we discussed, the mobile revolution is here to stay because billions of people already have a personal device of their own: their smartphone. And, as is the case with the iPhone, people pull it out on average 110 times a day.21 We seemingly can’t live without them.

So every mobile designer has an impossible mission: they have to delight billions of people 110 times a day with something they can only touch or talk to.

How do they do that? When it comes to mobile products, beauty appears through efficiency. This is often referred to as the Birkhoff formula22:

M = O/C

George David Birkhoff was a mathematician known for his work on differential equations. He published this mathematical theory of beauty in 1933 in his book Aesthetic Measure,23 which is still used today by professionals who research, design, and assess products and services for their usability.

In the Birkhoff formula, M is a measure of beauty, O of simplicity, and C of complexity. What it says is that beauty (M) increases with simplicity (O) and decreases with complexity (C.)

In other words, similar to the principle behind the ancient Greeks’ Golden Mean, beauty is creating order out of chaos. Let’s look at a few examples.

From the very beginning, the best products of the mobile revolution have been gorgeous. They wow us. Remember the launch of the first iPhone? Steve Jobs on stage, giving the keynote address at the annual Apple user conference.24 “I have been looking forward to this for two and a half years,” he said. “Today, Apple is going to reinvent the phone.”

“[It’s] a magical product,” he said as he gently slid the iPhone out of his pocket, a move he had rehearsed for hours to make sure it would be smooth. The beauty of the iPhone was right there, obvious to everyone in the room. The crowd gave Jobs a standing ovation.

But its enthusiastic reception was about more than the iPhone’s physical attractiveness—it was about its sleek operation, its efficiency. “iPhone uses [our fingers] to create the most revolutionary interface since the mouse,” Jobs added. There was no stylus, no external keyboard, no mouse. It epitomized the ultimate in simplicity for a tech product. The device was created to be easy to use by everyone.

As Jobs suggested, the lowest common denominator between all these people using their smartphones is their fingertips. So to create a satisfying user experience for everyone, designers rely on what’s called the thumb test.

The thumb test is one of the most important rules for mobile design. To pass the thumb test, a task should be easily completed by a user with a thumb of average size and without incidentally hitting an unrelated link, button, or other design element by mistake.

One of the masters of this is Pandora, the personalized radio service.25 Their team has created a whole radio station around the thumb. The service pulls from one of the world’s largest and most sophisticated music libraries to build customized stations on the fly. It would be ugly to go through hundreds of thousands of albums to listen to a few good songs, don’t you think? Even to find my favorite song, I would not have that much patience.

What Pandora did, though, was beautiful. It took the thumb test so seriously that it came up with a verb for it: thumbing. It creates personalized radio stations on the go based on a user’s preferences. People can alter the program of their stations by thumbing a song up or down, which means liking or nixing it.

Pandora relies on what’s called the Music Genome,26 which is a set of 400 different attributes defining the musical qualities of a song, from melody to rhythm, syncopation to lyrics. Using that Music Genome, it broke the complexity of musical taste into a very simple decision—if you like a song, you hit the thumb-up button; if you dislike it, you hit thumb-down.

Thumb-ups are an objective sign of beauty.


A few years ago, another beautifully designed mobile product made headlines: Instagram. The mobile photo-sharing, video-sharing, and social networking service captures the minds of 400 million users.27 Facebook purchased it in 2012 for $1 billion. At the time the steep acquisition price of Instagram was surprising, but several recent acquisitions have made the deal seem like a bargain.28 For instance, Google bought Nest, the company that designs gorgeous smart thermostats, for $3 billion. These enormous numbers are telling: some Fortune 100 companies place a tremendous value on beauty.

Instagram is another example of an ambitious group of entrepreneurs who brought the beauty of efficiency to mobile. They turned the complex process of photo and video editing into a couple of clicks, essentially enabling anyone to create and share gorgeous photos and videos. It became a new kind of self-expression, a new way to relate with the world around us, a new outlet to create and share beautiful memories.

Just as the Chinese artist from our earlier story was able to simplify a dragon to its essence—two parallel S curves—Instagram compiled the entire process of developing negatives in a darkroom, printing photographs, and mailing prints to friends and family down to the essential: a couple of taps.


A company I’ve had the chance to advise, GreenOwl Mobile, which gives drivers a safe and intuitive way to reach their destinations,29 goes a step beyond the thumb test.

GreenOwl’s service, TrafficAlert, is completely hands-free. It delivers audio alerts contextually, in response to real-time conditions, and relies on voice recognition to interact with users. It keeps drivers focused on where it matters: the road. When an accident or some other delay comes up ahead, it sends drivers alternative routes based on their current location, allowing them to adjust on the spot. As a result, it has become one of the leading traffic services in Canada and is quickly expanding internationally.

GreenOwl’s beauty is that its operation doesn’t even require a thumb.

In a similar vein, some mobile pioneers are creating smartphone apps that are completely invisible. Design guru and author Golden Krishna writes that “the best interface is no interface.”30 The process, he argues, is more important than the screen it is strapped in.

Take a service like Amazon Echo, the voice command device from Amazon, and its automated response persona, Alexa.31 You don’t need to fiddle with its smartphone app at all. All you need to do is talk to Alexa and ask, for instance, to listen to a song or the latest news. The product takes it from there.

Clara, which auto-magically schedules meetings when you forward her an e-mail, is another example of an invisible app.32 Clara allows you to remain focused on what it is you’re doing. You no longer need to pause, open your calendar, enter people’s e-mail addresses, set up a dialing number, and so on. The interface doesn’t get in the way of the job to be done. It just does it. It’s invisible.

Pushed to its limit, beauty is so efficient that it becomes invisible.

From simple gestures to hands-free products and all the way to invisible apps, we’ve covered the objective definition of beauty on mobile. Everything works effortlessly. Nothing is wasted. Now let’s look at beauty subjectively.

Beauty and Wow: A Visceral Experience

Whereas Greek mathematician Pythagoras argued that everything could be explained with numbers and formulas, Russian author Leo Tolstoy argued that art is entirely subjective. In his book What Is Art?,33 he makes the case that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

There is something about beauty that’s whimsical, argues Tolstoy. Almost magical. Beautiful things create empathy. If a viewer finds a painting beautiful, it is beautiful. If a listener is touched by a symphony, it is a moving piece of music. The person experiencing a piece of art is the one to decide its artistic value, not the artist.

Beauty is the feeling created within us, the primal reaction. It resonates deep. When we encounter it, we get completely wowed.

In mobile, too, beauty comes through this wow factor. Let’s consider some examples.

To understand what users want, Flipboard personalized news service34 founder Mike McCue uses a clever approach: the mom test.35

He founded Flipboard in 2010 to transform the way people read and spread the news. Users can follow their favorite news sources from around the world and share stories, images, and videos that reflect their interests.

McCue tells his employees to think constantly about their mothers’ reactions—real or imagined—to the things they’re building.

“[Imagine] you’re sitting down at Thanksgiving, and your mom asks, ‘So, what are you doing? What are you building?’ If you start to give an answer, and her eyes are glazing over, and she doesn’t really understand what you’re saying, you know you’re off to a bad start.”

McCue goes on to describe what the mom test truly entails: “Think about how the average person—the person who could benefit from technology, but who is not necessarily adept with technology—might react to a product. They need to get what the product is about and be able to use it. And, they need to want to use it.”

McCue believes that seeing the world through the lens of a friend or family member is the key to building products that delight everyone.

And if you can build a product that delights everyone, you have passed the mom test. You have created wow.


Airbnb vacation rental service36 founder Joe Gebbia goes a step beyond the mom test. He says that designing great mobile products requires a deep understanding of what people want.

The company was founded in 2007 by two roommates struggling to make ends meet in downtown San Francisco. They offered travelers an air mattress and home-cooked breakfast in their living room. Today, Airbnb has over 1.5 million listings in 190 countries.

“We put ourselves in the shoes of the person we’re designing for,” Gebbia writes on his blog.37 “And I think that’s a universal principle. Whether it’s in the physical world or whether it’s online, surprisingly enough, the principles are pretty much the same.”

Take Airbnb’s wish list feature. For a few years, registered Airbnb users were able to star the properties they browsed and save them to a list. Gebbia’s team felt that a star was a generic symbol and decided to change it to a heart. A heart is much more aspirational than a star. It appeals to users’ emotions, to their desire for adventure and unique experiences.

This simple change from a star to a heart resulted in a whopping 30 percent increase in the number of places on people’s wish lists. They were wowed. As Gebbia put it, “[Changing this detail] showed the potential for something bigger.”38

Hearting is a subjective sign of beauty.


KnockKnock, a mobile product from start-up Humin that helps you better manage your contacts,39 applies a similar approach. “We get rid of the awkwardness of meeting people,” says Humin cofounder Ankur Jain.

What I like about KnockKnock is that it feels very intuitive. The service mirrors the behavior of knocking on someone’s door. The person on the other end gets to choose whether to open and, if so, what to share. It also uses Bluetooth to exchange contact information. There’s no awkward typing.

Leading product design firm Frog Design40 calls that approach design thinking, or human-centered design. Designers immerse themselves in the lives of their users, experiencing the constraints of their day-to-day lives, and consider every interaction as an opportunity to overcome these constraints. By doing so, they surprise and delight with real value. The products created with this approach tend to resonate more with their users because their conception is rooted in empathy. They feel universal.

Pushed to its limit, beauty resonates so deeply and collectively that it becomes universal.

Beauty in Context

Beauty doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It takes into account the environment. The Chinese emperor was able to appreciate the beauty of the two S curves only when he saw them in context, in the cave amidst all the other versions of the dragon the artist had created.

This represents a particular challenge in mobile because there is no single environment where mobile products are used. By their very nature, they go wherever we go. They have to work well in any environment and with any other products they may encounter.

In fact, Silicon Valley design guru Joe Robinson recommends that designers read science fiction books41 because it helps them picture what the future might look like. When designers understand their users’ environment, they can create products that work contextually.

Take the example of that first iPhone. At the time of launch, Apple designers realized that there were three things people like to do on the go: listen to music, talk to friends, and browse the Internet. Until the iPhone, they needed three separate devices to do this: an iPod, a cell phone, and a PDA (personal digital assistant).

The iPhone was presented as three devices beautifully combined into one: an iPod with a wide screen, a phone with touch control, and a mini web browser. People no longer needed to carry three devices with them. All they needed was to have this one. The combination itself was beautiful because it was perfectly suited to the user’s environment—being on the move.

Now let’s look at a workplace environment and business messaging service Slack.42 The service has been called the “fastest growing business app ever.”43 Slack’s founder, Stewart Butterfield, who also founded the photo-sharing service Flickr,44 is a designer with a deep background in cognitive science.

With Slack, Butterfield is revolutionizing workplace communication. In most companies, discussion is scattered. A team of engineers calls for a meeting: Was it by phone, or e-mail, or online chat? Keeping track of all these channels is hard. Slack integrates these communications systems into a central location, so tracking things and reaching colleagues becomes easier.

IT departments love Slack. Why? Butterfield made sure that Slack would be very easy to set up and maintain. It is beautiful because it plugs right into any work environment.

To understand why this is so meaningful, you have to keep in mind that companies rely on many tools to operate. These tools need to work well together. If one is poorly designed or breaks, it can have a domino effect and paralyze the whole business. So IT departments are rightfully concerned about any new technology, especially when it needs to interact with many other critical tools such as e-mail or chat.

Unfortunately for IT, mobile products started as personal devices. Unlike computers, which were first adopted by companies, smartphones emerged in the hands of people first. So, mobile was brought into the workplace by employees: the janitors, the salespeople, the administrative assistants, the financial analysts. Companies had to adapt to the popularity and utility of smartphone apps after the fact.

Before services like Slack, IT departments found it difficult to adopt mobile because they felt it was forced upon them. They didn’t control which employees had what apps on their smartphones because the smartphones belonged to the employees.

Mobile services like Slack acknowledge this concern and are designed specifically to address it. They harness the beauty of efficiency and wow to function well in all business environments.

Now that we understand that beauty on mobile equals efficiency and wow, and that mobile beauty is attained when it works seamlessly in any environment, let’s look under the hood. How do mobile designers take these concepts and use them in their designs?

Building for Beauty: Mobile Products As Extensions of Our Body

Because they build off of human-first principles, mobile products sometimes appear so simple that they feel obvious, as in anybody could make one, just like the dragon painting we discussed earlier.

Truth is, the most beautiful mobile products are the result of an enormous amount of work. Mobile designers rely on two types of carefully considered design elements to achieve this beauty: focusing and expanding. Focusing elements build trust by being predictable. Once trust is established, expanding elements allow the experience to be personalized to a user’s moods and environment.

Focusing design elements can be an obvious call to action, like the “OK” button of a subscription form, but they also manifest as more subtle interactions that seamlessly immerse people in the world around them and deepen their relationship to it.

They are a necessary component of a solid relationship between a user and a mobile product. They build trust, respect, and familiarity over time. They make life easier for users by establishing simple and predictable rules of communication. Through them, mobile products add transactional value and with time, they become indispensable.

As trust builds, users start to expect more. This is where expanding design elements come in.

Expanding design elements look like simple requests for permission, such as to access a user’s address book, track their location, or send them push notifications. They enable deep personalization to a user’s mood, time, and place. Users get more value out of doing less because the product itself notifies them about ways they can use it to simplify their life when and where it matters.


Even though it’s relatively difficult to build a mobile product today, I believe that things will go the other way.

Think about the early days of automobiles. Initially, they were conceived in advanced workshops and assembled by an army of engineers, technicians, and plant workers. Now, components are manufactured all over the world and assembled in factories populated more by robotic machinery than people.

Computer manufacturers followed the same model. Initially, computers were designed and built top to bottom by a very savvy and cross-functional device team. Today, companies like Dell buy premade components and assemble computers on demand, as orders come in.

Mobile devices themselves are already a set of components beautifully put together. I believe this will happen in software too: smartphones apps will soon be a combination of standard components.

Reflect on this for a moment. Many smartphone apps need their users to sign up, so sign-up flows are likely to become a standard component. Already today, we’re seeing the first attempts at standardizing sign-ups with Facebook Login.

Payment flow is also likely to become standard. Like any business, mobile companies need to make money, so most of them will need to accept payment. Tools offered by Stripe45 are early attempts at providing a standard payment component for mobile.

These standard user flows will be the connecting tissue of smartphone apps. As they become standardized, they begin to resemble a utility, like the water and electricity in our homes. The details may vary at the tap or light switch, but the underlying systems are the same.

So it will be with mobile apps.

Building for Beauty:
Focusing and Expanding Design Elements

Mobile designers rely on two types of design elements: focusing and expanding.46

Focusing design elements are the foundation of a solid relationship between a user and a mobile product. They provide easy access to the information a user is looking for. On the home screen of your smartphone, a focusing design element might be the red badge with a number at the top right corner of the app icon. It conveys that something new has happened since you last checked that screen. You missed something and need to get up to speed on what’s going on with your friends. Time to reconnect!

Focusing design elements come in five types:

image Onboarding, such as tutorials, sign-up flows, help tips, and app store descriptions, convey to users the value they can get out of an app. Mobile companies have learned that there is a very short period of time and attention a user will grant them to make their case, so onboarding elements are critical. The best mobile apps use onboarding elements to deliver value to a user before they even sign up.

image Single-task, such as home screens, buttons, search bars, and predefined options, keep a user focused on what they need to accomplish. As mentioned, mobile companies often refer to the thumb test as one of the most important rules for mobile design. To pass the thumb test, a task should be easily completed by a user with a thumb of normal size and without incidentally hitting an unrelated link, button, or other design element by mistake.

image Navigation, such as side menus, navigation bars, and badges, allow users to transition between single tasks inside an app. Navigation is often hidden or positioned out of the way to allow single-task elements to take center stage. In most cases, a single navigation is best to keep things simple and easy to use. User reviews stating that an app is hard to use generally come from poorly designed navigation.

image Performance, such as crashes, slow-loading screens, broken links, timeouts, and other performance issues, tell users that an app is built on a broken foundation. When people discover they’ve invested time in a mobile product that doesn’t work, they feel that their time is not being valued and they reject the product. This results in negative user reviews, disengagement, lost sales, and more. Performance focusing elements address these efficiency issues so they don’t become problems.

image Gestures, such as tapping and swiping, are paradigms that exist only on the touch-enabled interface of mobile devices. Users expect predictability: one tap on an item expands it, a right swipe deletes it, etc. Imagine browsing for flights in a new travel app. You see a return ticket that fits your criteria and tap on it. What do you expect to happen? What if it doesn’t? What if something else happens? How would you feel about using this app again?

Focusing design elements build trust, respect, and familiarity over time. As trust builds, users start to expect more. This requires access to personal information, which is where expanding design elements come in. They come in two types:

image Pull, such as alerts and pop-ups, prompt a user to grant permission to access personal data. This includes a user’s contacts, photos, calendar, or even real-time location or health data. Getting permission from a user to pull this type of personal data allows an app to become contextual, to make an educated guess about what could be useful to a user at a specific time and place.

image Push, such as push notifications, are sent to a user’s smartphone screen on behalf of an app. You’ve probably noticed them on your own phone—they pop up when you get a new e-mail, a friend makes an update on Facebook, or your crops are ready to harvest on Hay Day.47 Push notifications keep a design so simple that users don’t even need to launch the app anymore.

Well-engineered design gets out of the way because good mobile products enhance rather than obstruct a user’s connection with the real world. Focusing design elements build trust by making it easy to do something that seems hard to do. Expanding design elements personalize people’s experiences and deepen their connection to their environments. Mobile products that can do that become virtual extensions of their users’ bodies.

Building Instagram for Beauty

Let’s apply what we’ve learned to Instagram.

Yann (not his real name) is a senior at the University of Wisconsin majoring in marketing. He’s a bright student with ambitious dreams, many friends, and a quirky sense of humor. But technology is not his strong suit. In fact, he’d much rather spend an evening hanging out with his friends than being behind a computer.

Yet, throughout the day he keeps pulling out his smartphone. He loves sharing his life on Instagram. Yann doesn’t think about exposure, hues, or contrast when he immerses himself in Instagram.

“It’s so easy and beautiful,” he says as he scrolls through the feed of recent pictures posted by the people he follows. “My grandpa was a fashion photographer in the sixties. I love when he tells me stories about darkrooms and gelatin silver prints. It makes me feel like I’m in an episode of Mad Men. But I can’t believe how much work taking pictures was.”

What’s behind Yann’s passion for Instagram? How has this app been able to wow him? He loves the simplicity of the design because it lets him capture and share memories with his circle of family, friends, and online acquaintances. When he started using Instagram, he was instantly able to create a beautiful photo. All he needed to do was tap to select one of the gorgeous filters to tailor it to his mood of the moment, and then tap again to publish it. Immediately after posting it, he navigated to the feed and browsed through dozens of beautiful memories shared by others.

Recall the first time you saw an Instagram photo. Did it make you smile? Or maybe make you want to be there? Did you feel a connection to its author?

The simple taps required to create a picture are focusing design elements, gestures that make it easy to capture memories and share them. Similarly, the navigation bar at the bottom of the Instagram app is a focusing design element that allows you to switch from creating to browsing effortlessly.

Once he started to appreciate the experience of creating beautiful photos and videos, Yann felt comfortable allowing Instagram to share his content with his friends on Facebook and other social networks. By doing so, he put his reputation at risk, so he only did this once he trusted that the service wouldn’t let him down, and that all his friends would enjoy it and find it fun.

Instagram used expanding design elements to request permission to access his address book only when Yann tried to share a photo with his friends for the first time. And it was clear from the language that Instagram would only use that information to share Yann’s photos and videos. It wouldn’t use it to share anything that Yann would not previously approve of.

As he built connections with other photographers whose pictures he liked, Yann started following them and gave Instagram permission to let him know via a push notification when these users posted more content.

By building trust through the simplicity and transparency of its design, Instagram earned the permission to connect Yann to a community of like-minded people. “I’ve made new friends. We have so much in common, I can’t wait to meet them one day!”

For Yann, Instagram is now an extension of himself. It allows him to mesh with the world around him in new ways, and has made his relationships deeper and stronger.

Successful mobile products enhance people’s lives like this. They replicate and amplify human behavior and interaction. Their natural beauty is inviting, their bare elegance makes room for the personalized content they bring to their users’ attention, and their transparent flow removes obstacles to achieving what their users came to do.

Remember and Share

image All successful mobile products are beautiful, but how to define their beauty? Beauty in mobile comes from efficiency and wow.

image Efficiency: Greek mathematician Pythagoras believed that there is an objective definition of beauty, a formula like the Golden Mean. In mobile, it translates into elegance and simplicity. Nothing is wasted. Mobile designers use the thumb test to assess whether the product they’re building passes this objective definition of beauty.

image Wow: Russian writer Leo Tolstoy argued that beauty is subjective. Beautiful art creates empathy. The visceral feeling we get is universal. In mobile, it translates into intuitive and human-centered approaches. Mobile designers use the mom test to assess whether the product they’re building passes this subjective definition of beauty.

image But beauty doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Mobile products that do not take context into account fail. Mobile designers carefully consider applicability to all sorts of environments when they design products.

image Mobile designers rely on two types of design elements to build beautiful products: focusing and expanding. Focusing elements build trust by being predictable. Once trust is established, expanding elements allow the experience to be personalized to a user’s moods and environment. Today, it’s still hard to build beautiful mobile products. However, standards will emerge that will make it easier.