Monday, March 22, 2010

The Mobile User Experience - Trends and Best Practices

Anders Rosenquist, ZAAZ

Why is mobile important? About 2/3 people in the room have smartphone. Just a few years back, smartphone existed, but penetration was small. Apple introduced a simpler way to interact with the device: you could use your fingers instead of a stylus. Networks have become more powerful. Some companies pushing bandwidth limit. More and more people are using these devices to access the web. "Now somewhat enjoyable to go on a website." Ecosystems are growing; now have app stores for mobile platforms.

Recent industry trends

Increased data use. Voice minutes become more of a commodity, less of focus on mobile device. Apple changed experience of buying: Can go into Apple store, then go home and plug it into your computer and sign up from a plan. You never have to walk into a phone store.

Google's new phone, you have to go online to buy it. You can't buy it from any store.

Free an open operating systems are becoming more popular. 60,000 Android licenses being sold every day, according to Google.

Increased smartphone adoption. In U.S., smartphone and feature phones, the latter have 10-digit keypads. People who don't care about the phones themselves are jumping to smartphones. In U.S., about 17% smartphone sales. Samsung working to introduce new OS and bring low-cost smartphone devices to market.

What we are seeing

Companies are wanting mobile presence. There's also the "We need an app" notion.

Defining a mobile strategy

First have to step back and look at data, discovery phase. Talk to a range of stakeholders. What are business goals for the company as seen through the eyes of a lot of people.

Take business goals and user goals and run an alignment matrix. Look for correlations between the two. Sometimes business goals conflict, and sometimes user goals conflict. Some business goals enabled via mobile. Then look at what audiences might tap into that.

Mobile site vs. app

What does it mean to have a mobile site? What does it mean to have a mobile app? For mobile app, tapping in to a much richer experience. For example, Amazon app, you can take a photo of an item and add it to your Amazon Wish List. Location services are also useful. Problem with mobile app is that you have to target platforms. Tends to be a more expensive way to go.

If creating a mobile site, screen size is the primary factor. (Right way to do it is server detect device and serve up page for the right screen size. Can get away without device detection only if pages are very, very simple.) If creating a mobile app, the device OS is the primary factor.

40% of mobile screen traffic is on a 480 x 320 screen. Another 11% is on a 220 x 176 screen. Top 10 devices account for 60% of mobile browser traffic. 4 screen sizes in the top 10. Big ones: iPhone & iPod Touch.

480 x 320 hits not only iPhone, but Palm and Android devices, so design for that screen size, you'll hit a lot of devices. 320 x 240 hits BlackBerry and older Window Mobile devices.

UX for mobile

Core idea: focus user attention on core information. The content is the interface. Controls are at a minimum.

Desktop design doesn't work in mobile. So much breaks the experience, such as headers, navigation, footers, and more.

Among the mobile app UX principles, minimize user help and focus on the user experience.

Analytics, to track what users click on and where they go, as important on mobile as it is on desktop.


We know faster networks are coming, and more app stores. There will be a greater blending of social and mobile. We'll see even more location-based services.

We're considering iPad as "mobile."

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