Paradigms for viewing documents on mobile devices: File viewer vs. e-reader?

19 Nov 2010 - 9:24am
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Hi all,

I'm currently working on the document viewing aspect of a mobile app. I originally intended to model this experience on other file viewers for the same platform, i.e. to provide continuous scroll navigation across the document, and have the page breaks serve as visual markers only.

But, to support a wider variety of file formats, product management has now decided to replace the native document viewer with a custom one that renders documents as sets of discrete pages.

The dev team is now asking me whether we should make the experience of navigating through a document similar to that of an e-reader app, e.g. - Tapping on the edge of a document page, rather than the edge of the viewport, to move to the next/previous page - Page curl animation when moving between pages - Etc.

I have a number of concerns with this suggestion, including - Mixing metaphors: Will users be confused with a file viewer that acts like an e-reader? - Mystery page navigation: Unlike most e-reader apps I've seen, this app will support true zoom in/out (rather than just font scaling). Will users figure out that they need to zoom in/out appopriately to move across pages? - Does a page curl transition really make sense when you're not navigating across pages, but across slides in a presentation or parts of a spreadsheet?

That being said, I don't want to close my mind to the e-reader paradigm if it can provide a richer document navigation experience for users.



-- Dmitry Nekrasovski | Senior User Experience Designer, Open Text |

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