Facebook's Paper Gestural Hell / by Natashia Tjandra

Facebook's release of Paper yesterday on the App Store breaks a string of uninspired releases outside of Instagram, and has many believing it's a glimpse into the future of mobile interaction.

But there's one problem: if this is the future, it's going to hurt. And I mean physically.

There's no doubt that Paper is a fresh and innovative take on content browsing. But while Paper may not ask much of us when we sign up to use the app — it asks a lot of us when it comes to the app's default interactions. So much so that the Paper's heaviest users might need to start popping arthritis medication in a few years.

– Scott Hurff

Here's what users have to do when using the new app:


Source: Scott Hurff. Facebook's Paper Gestural Hell.

According to Hurff, it's because of the "Thumb Zone." 

THE "THUMB ZONE"

Coined by Steven Hoober, author of the O'Reilly book Designing Mobile Interfaces, the Thumb Zone is "the most comfortable area for touch with one-handed use." And while there are many variables at play here, he found that 49% of users held their phone in one hand and used their phone with one thumb.

Let's get specific. Paper was released only on iPhone. So let's look at the Thumb Zone on a 4 inch iPhone screen:

Thumb Zone

Thumb Zone

FIXING THE THUMB HOOK

It's fascinating how easy it is to solve this problem. The only realization it requires is that swipes don't have to occur on a strict X or Y axis; they can follow the natural arc of our fingers.

Let's take a look at how Hurff'd do it:

Thumb Hook Solution. 

Thumb Hook Solution. 

Easy. All it requires is shrinking the space allocated to the Topic section above and increase the space allocated to the story navigation (the swiping part that'll give us arthritis) by 50 pixels. DONE.