I’m biased. I’m a full-time Flash developer and I’d love to get paid to make Flash sites for iPad. I want that to make sense—but it doesn’t. Flash on the iPad will not (and should not) happen.
The purpose of my research was to analyze web content delivered to the mobile computing environment with two goals in mind: first, to determine if the content lost contextual relevance in the mobile environment and, second, to see if a set of effective design principles could be applied towards the mobile environment. My research combines a literature review in conjunction with a survey that encompasses both quantitative and qualitative methods to analyze top-rated web sites in the mobile environment.
B. is an old friend of mine who owns an old Nokia. And when I say old, I mean really old. It was released somewhere in 2000 or so (the Nokia, not the friendship). It’s not a smartphone, to put it mildly, and B. does not use the mobile Web.
The web as we know and build it has primarily been accessed from the desktop. That is about to change. The ITU predicts that in the next 18–24 months, mobile devices will overtake PCs as the most popular way to access the web. If these predictions come true, very soon the web—and its users—will be mostly mobile. Even designers who embrace this change can find it confusing. One problem is that we still consider the mobile web a separate thing. Stephanie Rieger of futurefriend.ly and the W3C presents principles to understand and design for a new normal, in which users are channel agnostic, devices are plentiful, standards are fleeting, mobile use doesn’t necessarily mean “hide the desktop version,” and every byte counts.
The more I think about it, the more convinced I am that the mobile Web is largely overplayed hype--the clumsy extrapolation of the behavior and use of a basic set of interfaces from one environment to another incompatible one. As a result of this broken mental model of mobile computing, we are not taking advantage of the real potential this technology offers.
Users visit mobile sites not only to consume content, but to get things done. Let’s take air travel as an example: tasks that users often find themselves performing on an airline company’s mobile site include checking flight status, checking in for a particular flight, and searching for and booking a flight. How does mobile user interface design support task completion? What are the optimal ways of communicating and displaying interactions on mobile sites? With the aim of discovering optimal ways of designing simple interactions on mobile devices, I examined the task of checking flight status. I’m hoping that my analysis sheds some light on this topic.
Until recently, Josh Clark’s charts of thumb-sweep ranges represented the state of the art in understanding touch interactions. In creating his charts, Josh surmised that elements at the top of the screen—and especially those on the opposite side from the thumb, or in the upper-left corner for right-handers—were hard to reach, and thus, designers should place only rare or dangerous actions in that location. Since then, we’ve seen that people stretch and shift their grip to reach targets anywhere on the screen, without apparent complaint. The iPhone’s Back button doesn’t appear to present any particular hardship to users. So the assumption behind those charts seems to be wrong—at least in the theory behind it. But are there other critical constraints at work? I am starting to think that it’s time for us to start designing for fingers and thumbs instead of for touch.
Covers strategies for making people more aware of the filtering options that are available to them, as well as methods of improving transitions between the various states a user encounters in a search user interface.
On the desktop Web, ecommerce landing pages get a bum rap—sometimes well deserved. Laden with ads and gimmicks, pushing items with higher markups, and confusing customers with complicated information architectures, these marketing monstrosities typically strongly underperform the search results pages from a simple keyword search. However, passing a death sentence on all landing pages may be premature. On the small screens of mobile devices, well-designed landing pages can provide a much better experience than keyword search results. Currently, few mobile sites use landing pages, which makes them the next big mobile ecommerce opportunity.
For designers, Android is the elephant in the room when it comes to app design. As much as designers would like to think it’s an iOS world in which all anyones cares about are iPhones, iPads and the App Store, nobody can ignore that Android currently has the majority of smartphone market share and that it is being used on everything from tablets to e-readers. In short, the Google Android platform is quickly becoming ubiquitous, and brands are starting to notice.
In comparing the design of mobile Web sites with the design of Web sites for computers, I realized that complex context is another important factor that differentiates the two platforms. For Nielsen’s report, controlled usability testing in a lab was one of the primary methods for studying mobile usability, so it’s understandable that his report didn’t consider context. In addition to the four problems Nielsen wrote about, I’ll cover design for complex contexts of use in my discussion of constraints on mobile Web sites. In practice, being aware of these constraints lets us approach these problems with caution and come up with better design solutions for mobile devices. Based on my analysis of more than 20 mobile Web sites, I’ll point out some ways of working within these constraints.
Thinking of porting your Web finding experience to iPhone, Android, or Windows Mobile? Just forget about the fact that these devices are basically full-featured computers with tiny screens. Having gone through this design exercise a few times, I have realized that designing a great mobile finding experience requires a way of thinking that is quite different from our typical approach to designing search for Web or desktop applications. To put it simply, designing a mobile finding experience requires thinking in terms of turning limitations into opportunities. In this column, I’ll discuss some of the limitations of mobile platforms, as well as the opportunities they afford, and share a few design ideas that might come in handy for your own projects.
Because of the limited display area and processing power, mobile computing devices cannot efficiently render Web content that has been designed for a standard desktop browser. As a result, Web content that is to be viewed, or interacted with, on a mobile device should be designed with these limitations in mind. This article provides general guidelines for the creation of such content, with the ultimate goals of optimizing information display and enhancing human-computer interaction.
From ATMs to Siri to the button text in an application user interface, we “talk” to our tech—and our tech talks back. Often this exchange is purely transactional, but newer technologies have renegotiated this relationship. Joscelin Cooper reflects on how we can design successful human-machine conversations that are neither cloying nor overly mechanical.
This paper motivates the need for a lightweight, standards-based web services implementation that runs on mass market mobile devices. It describes the advantages of using web services and the challenges which must be overcome to use web services on mass market devices with limited computing power and network bandwidth. The paper concludes by describing a new approach to web services which drastically reduces the code required to exchange data with remote services, enabling the creation of more compelling applications with sophisticated user interfaces and application logic.
The recent introduction of the new Apple iPad has stirred the discussion over the future of web content and application runtime formats, and shone light onto the political and business battles emerging between Apple, Adobe and Google. These discussion are often highly polarized and irrational. My hope in this post is to help provide some balance and clarity onto this discussion.
In this edition of Ask UXmatters—which is the second in a two-part series focusing on user experience design for mobile devices—our experts discuss how you should determine whether to: create a mobile version of your Web site or application; reuse your existing Web site’s or Web application’s design or start your mobile design from scratch.
Screen sizes seem to be diverging more and more, with huge desktop monitors coexisting with tiny mobile phone screens—meaning an app’s available screen space is difficult to know. The elements on these screens are evolving, too—especially with new gear like the iPad—and there are new interaction models like touch. How do you design for such a wide and varying range of screen sizes and available space?
Over the past few years, mobile web usage has considerably increased to the point that web developers and designers can no longer afford to ignore it. In wealthy countries, the shift is being fueled by faster mobile broadband connections and cheaper data service. However, a large increase has also been seen in developing nations where people have skipped over buying PCs and gone straight to mobile. Unfortunately, the mobile arena introduces a layer of complexity that can be difficult for developers to accommodate. Mobile development is more than cross-browser, it should be cross-platform.
Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) 5 is attracting increasing attention as the standard technology for the next-generation web. Naturally, it will have massive impact on personal computers (PC), smartphones and mobile phones, and the effects will spread out to include other home electronics as well.
In this article, I will explore the topic of using a specialized drop-down menu as one of the ways of creating immersive experience in mobile e-commerce search UIs, and I'll introduce a novel design pattern, the status bar drop-down menu. In contrast to existing mobile search interfaces that devote 24-33% of the screen to navigation, the status bar drop-down menu allows 100% of the screen real estate to be dedicated to search results, while also providing convenient and intuitive access to navigation and filter functions.