Why kindle users need longer thumbs.

I read about 20 books a year. I am hardly a hardcore reader but it is one of my favourite past times and it’s almost 7 years I have switched to e-reading with Kindle. To me, the benefits of e-reading greatly surpass the pleasure that physical books can give. With Kindle I carry with me a library of books which if they were physical, would make it impossible for me to carry on a train. I love Kindle, though I just wish its designers didn’t think my thumb was 2 cm longer than it is.

Left-handed accessibility

Left-handed people only account for 10% of the population and changing the design of a product to accomodate this userbase may seem nonesense but is it really that difficult nowadays? I prefer to hold the Kindle with my dominant hand (right) so I would expect left-handed people to do. Adding an option to flip the interface horizontally would be a start.

Thumb Reach

Holding the Kindle with my right hand only I can flip through pages easily, but when it comes to doing something more than that things get complicated. In the Settings page for example navigating back is impossible without having to use both hands.

I know it seems silly but when you are stuck in the tube, you really want to optimise movement and space…

Ok maybe using Settings is not something you do on the fly, but what about purchasing a book on the Store?

The purchase button is placed on the opposite side of the thumb (right-handed example) requiring a stretch to tap on the ‘Buy’ button.

Maybe left handed people end up buying more books, who knows…

Crowded Touch point

The toolbar is at the top of the screen and with a gentle tap is active, but so it happens that also the bookmark touch point is high on the top right corner of the screen and it is in a higher focal point for the thumb. I created so many bookmarks when I just wanted to turn on the Wi-Fi.

Plus, who uses Bookmarks?

Scrolling Action

In the search result page scrolling is quite natural. The thing that puzzles me is ‘Back to the Top’ located at the bottom of the screen. It is hard to reach and if really we want to give a shortcut, why not place a ‘Go to top’ button placed high on the search results.

It would be a more natural cue of the action resulting from the tap.

Icon Weight

The new settings page has an icon set that has gained a stone or more compared to the Toolbar icons. They are clumsily bold, less streamlined and too reminiscent of Microsoft Messenger… uhh I got the shivers only thinking about it.

This is my first grumpy UX teardown. Do you get annoyed by poor design as well? Share the grumpiness for Kindle.

Eternal searcher, sample of Italian madness. Product and Usability expert. Find more about me on www.mariacerase.com