by Meher Masalawala

As web design has become consistently more responsive, it’s consequently become easier for users to access the Internet through multiple devices of various sizes. Smartphones made screens small and now wearable devices are making screens even smaller, with intuitive functionality playing a large role in how the experience is designed for them. When smartphones began to rise, mobile-first design was a hot topic – will wearable-first design be next?

Currently, the top two wearable design technologies available to the general public are smartwatches and smartglasses. Based on the sophistication of their respective technologies, there are usability differences between these devices. For example, Google Glass can take photos, videos, and search the Internet, while the Apple Watch is mainly used to track health, make payments, and play music. Both devices can provide navigation.

When it comes to UI/UX design, the experience has to be easy to use and well-thought-out in terms of the user’s lifestyle. It’s especially important in these instances as these devices are physically on the user, as opposed to a smartphone which is still a standalone device. Apps should quickly respond to the activity that the user is conducting, such as sleeping, biking, or shopping. The interface should be minimal yet functional, since the screens are very small and do not allow room for unnecessary elements.

Bright colors and simple typography work well on these small devices, as they generally have black backgrounds. While vertical scrolling and single-page website have become increasingly common in the web design world, wearable technology is better suited for horizontal scrolling – presenting another key difference between designing for standalone devices and designing for wearable devices. While the market is not yet saturated with this technology, reductive design has been gaining traction for awhile now, so it should be a fairly easy transition when the time comes.

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