The tablet has seen a meteoric rise in popularity since the launch of the iPad in early 2010. While technology analysts debate the extent to which these devices will impact desktop and laptop computers, in terms of sales, the effects are already abundantly clear. According to a recent International Data Corporation (IDC) report1, tablet sales will outpace portable computer sales by the end of 2013. By 2015, they are projected to exceed the entire personal computer market. This begs the question, will the tablet replace desktops and laptops as the consumer’s primary device for day-to-day activities like surfing the Web? Or will it complement it?
While the debate over the long-term impact of tablets plays out, in the short term, users haven’t shown signs that they’re ready to abandon their desktops or laptops en masse. Instead of replacing their traditional computers with tablets, many users are simply adding these devices to their technology toolbox, employing a particular device – computer, tablet or smart phone – based on factors such as their location or the task at hand.
With that in mind, Corporate Insight designed a usability study to understand how mobile applications match up against traditional website interfaces, both in terms of usability and functionality. This latest in our ongoing series of usability studies focuses on the offerings of five leading banks – Bank of America, Chase, Citizens Bank, U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo. As always, our findings highlight problems users encountered with these particular firms’ offerings. Our real goal, however, is to demonstrate the value that can be gained when you take the time to observe real users interacting with an interface.
For each of the five banks, we met with five participants, all of whom had experience with online banking but little or no prior experience with the interfaces they used in their test session. These sessions were broken into two parts. During the first portion, participants were asked to complete eight common banking-related tasks on one firm’s website, viewed on a desktop computer. For the second half of the session, these same participants attempted five similar tasks using a firm’s tablet or mobile application viewed on an iPad.
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