Some comments on the Mobile Web

In a recent usability study, users were asked to complete some normal tasks using mobile web sites.   Using standard smartphones, the users could complete 62% of the tasks assigned.  That seems reasonable for these small and slow devices…but I’d note two things:

1.  These were mobile web sites – designed specifically for users of these types of phones.  That says to me that we need to do a lot better with our mobile sites.  It also indicates that maybe smartphones are a little too small to use for everything.  Imagine if we did away with 8.5×11 inch paper and forced content to be communicated on 3×5 index cards?  It never happened, even though the “technology” was there.

2.  38% of tasks failed!  That’s a huge number if you are trying to sell something, or provide customers with information they need.

I’d also say that the future of the mobile web is very much a question mark.  Do all websites need to offer fully functional mobile counterparts, or some sort of hybrid?  Meaning that some functionality is available for a mobile site, but not everything.  It strikes me that the screen size is a bit limitation, and that people will realize that.  Perhaps future smartphones will provide some way to cast a virtual screen that’s larger, or something.  In the meantime, I think people will continue to use multiple devices and accept the limitations of each.

Category: mobile, Usability Comment »

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