How people really use the iPhone

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We frequently see that interaction and visual designs from one flagship product - such as the iPhone - have an influence throughout design for the web, desktop, mobile, and consumer electronics …

We frequently see that interaction and visual designs from one flagship product - such as the iPhone - have an influence throughout design for the web, desktop, mobile, and consumer electronics platforms. As a strategic design firm, Create with Context finds it important to stay on top of emerging design trends.

We recently published "How people really use the iPhone", an interesting readout of design issues and recommendations for people designing for the iPhone and beyond. Our presentation on this topic at the iPhone Developer's Summit was called the "best presentation of the conference" by several attendees.

Give us a shout if you're looking for strategic design and/or research for web, mobile, desktop, or consumer electronics. We're Silicon Valley-based, and work globally. We're at createwithcontext.com.

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  • wonderful presentation on iphone application!!! Thanks!
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  • I'm a big fan of iPhone. I think top app for iPhone is apps of CardFila.com. So useful. I can organize effectively & grow business network without error even if storing more 2000 biz cards. So great for business-man
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  • iOS6 is going to revolutionize the use of iPhone applications. A quick review of features expected from iOS6
    http://www.slideshare.net/SojoSolutions/features-ofios6
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  • Good overview of mobile user interface design best practices
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  • 1. How people really use the iPhone October, 2008 Bill Westerman, Principal
  • 2. Who is Create with Context? We are a strategic design and research firm focused on web, mobile, desktop, and consumer electronics applications We help companies with complex, strategic innovation projects: reinventing existing digital products, inventing entirely new digital products, and bridging the gap between physical products and the digital world  Consumer and business-to-business behaviors  Ecommerce and social commerce  Social media and communities  Internationalization and multi-cultural experiences  Multiplatform products (such as consumer electronics+web+ecommerce) Clients range from the Fortune 500 to technology startups Founded 2005, with headquarters in Santa Clara, California Copyright © 2008 Create with Context, Inc. All rights reserved.
  • 3. What we’ll talk about today: Our research How people really use the iPhone Purchasing applications Eight rules of thumb Copyright © 2008 Create with Context, Inc. All rights reserved.
  • 4. Our research Copyright © 2008 Create with Context, Inc. All rights reserved.
  • 5. Research goals Understand how people interact with the iPhone platform What works, what doesn’t work, and why? Are there mismatches between expectations and platform? Where are there usability and/or usefulness issues? Where does the iPhone UI excel, and where doesn’t it? Observe how the mass market - not the experts - uses the iPhone Copyright © 2008 Create with Context, Inc. All rights reserved.
  • 6. Research approach and structure Combination of in-lab and expert heuristic evaluation Interviewed blend participants at our Santa Clara research lab  People who currently own iPhones  People who have hands-on knoweldge of the iPhone, but do not own one  People who had never touched an iPhone Research focus on older, non-trendy demographic  Ages ranging from 30-55  Based on previous research, this target market has disposable income and purchases technology for self-consumption Participant session structure  Funnel approach, beginning with broad interview  Followed by specific tasks and workflows Copyright © 2008 Create with Context, Inc. All rights reserved.
  • 7. How people really use the iPhone Copyright © 2008 Create with Context, Inc. All rights reserved.
  • 8. How people really use the iPhone As iPhone developers, it’s tempting to believe that everyone knows how to use all of the iPhone applications and interactions In our research, however, we found that take-up of interactions - even when these were consistent across applications - was often quite slow And even ‘expert’ users were not aware of the ins-and-outs of every interaction - for example, our ‘expert’ participants didn’t know the two-finger single tap to zoom out on Google Maps Copyright © 2008 Create with Context, Inc. All rights reserved.
  • 9. Browsing the New York Times website Placement of text box mirrors the desktop browser, suggesting that URLs go here Copyright © 2008 Create with Context, Inc. All rights reserved.
  • 10. Browsing the New York Times website None of the novice users understood the use of the (X) button Copyright © 2008 Create with Context, Inc. All rights reserved.
  • 11. Browsing the New York Times website And some novices thought it was the Go button like in early IE Copyright © 2008 Create with Context, Inc. All rights reserved.
  • 12. Browsing the New York Times website Users quickly figured out that they could swipe to scroll, in part due to clipped lines Copyright © 2008 Create with Context, Inc. All rights reserved.
  • 13. Browsing the New York Times website “The magnifying glass took me out of the (New York Times) and into Google.” However, when they needed to zoom, users became confused “There’s a book here. Does that mean you can read?” Copyright © 2008 Create with Context, Inc. All rights reserved.
  • 14. Browsing the New York Times website Definitely not what was expected “I keep thinking the plus sign is to make it larger” Copyright © 2008 Create with Context, Inc. All rights reserved.
  • 15. Browsing the New York Times website But this wasn’t what they expected to see Some felt this icon would zoom them out to the entire page Copyright © 2008 Create with Context, Inc. All rights reserved.
  • 16. Setting an alarm All users quickly found the Alarm button Copyright © 2008 Create with Context, Inc. All rights reserved.
  • 17. Setting an alarm In this instance, the (+) was easy to find The spinning dials were relatively intuitive for all users However, some novices began their swipes outside of the widget Copyright © 2008 Create with Context, Inc. All rights reserved.
  • 18. Setting an alarm And then deleting is visually highlighted, but not editing When asked to change an alarm, many users tapped on the time, instead of Edit Copyright © 2008 Create with Context, Inc. All rights reserved.
  • 19. Creating a calendar entry Most users first hit the right arrow to get to November Although several tried to swipe horizontally Copyright © 2008 Create with Context, Inc. All rights reserved.
  • 20. Creating a calendar entry When they could have pressed the (+) right at the beginning And then they selected the first of the month Copyright © 2008 Create with Context, Inc. All rights reserved.
  • 21. Finding the current location on the map 100% of participants found the crosshairs Copyright © 2008 Create with Context, Inc. All rights reserved.
  • 22. Searching for a Starbucks Users guessed that the highlighted shop was the closest, but were not sure When Address Book “I guess it's this one, entries appeared, some but I’m not sure if that's felt they had ‘entered why one of them has a the wrong mode’ pop-up balloon“ Copyright © 2008 Create with Context, Inc. All rights reserved.
  • 23. Searching for a Starbucks One participant felt that the blue arrow itself pointed to the location of the Starbucks Copyright © 2008 Create with Context, Inc. All rights reserved.
  • 24. Seeing a satellite image Novices zoomed in by tapping; experts by ‘unpinching’ One user exited Maps Users chose this button twice trying to get back out of trial and error, to Map view, because not visual affordance forgot about this icon Copyright © 2008 Create with Context, Inc. All rights reserved.
  • 25. Finding a video on YouTube However, many hit the blue arrow, rather than the video itself All participants quickly gravitated to Search Copyright © 2008 Create with Context, Inc. All rights reserved.
  • 26. Finding a video on YouTube When landing on this page, participants tapped the video thumbnail All participants were comfortable with the display auto-rotating Copyright © 2008 Create with Context, Inc. All rights reserved.
  • 27. Playing Air Hockey Real-world affordances make it possible to play immediately, with no instructions needed Direct, 1:1 manipulation brought a smile to every participants’ face Copyright © 2008 Create with Context, Inc. All rights reserved.
  • 28. Koi Pond Direct, immediate feedback to exploratory manipulation worked well to engage users However, (i) button disappears, leaving users to wonder how to configure application Copyright © 2008 Create with Context, Inc. All rights reserved.
  • 29. Koi Pond Most users picked up on direct, real-time display of changes to Most tapped the water settings to close the drawer, but one ‘pushed’ it to the bottom to close However, one said “I was expecting more instant feedback” Lack of strong highlighting caused confusion as to which options were selected Copyright © 2008 Create with Context, Inc. All rights reserved.
  • 30. Playing Labyrinth Level selection was difficult as users had to click on this icon rather than the text “There’s no real way to see how to choose the level pack.” Real-world, direct manipulation was easy for all users to pick up Copyright © 2008 Create with Context, Inc. All rights reserved.
  • 31. Purchasing applications Copyright © 2008 Create with Context, Inc. All rights reserved.
  • 32. Purchasing applications We also investigated participant attitudes and behaviors surrounding the purchase of applications through the on-phone iPhone App Store Attitudes towards ratings and reviews closely mirrored those seen in research we have performed for desktop browser-based ecommerce Participants provided insights into what’s considered - at first glance - a ‘good’ or ‘trustworthy’ application Copyright © 2008 Create with Context, Inc. All rights reserved.
  • 33. Find and purchase a To Do application Clipped icon and stars helped users see that the list was scrollable All participants quickly gravitated to Search Copyright © 2008 Create with Context, Inc. All rights reserved.
  • 34. Icon design Initial perception of application quality is largely influenced by “Nice and crisp [icon]… icon design does have a big impact on my actually going to look at what that is.” “If it was a poorly- designed icon, I'd go right past.” “Bright red feels like it's saying ‘error, don't take this one’.” “I also like vibrant colors … a hi-res icon” Copyright © 2008 Create with Context, Inc. All rights reserved.
  • 35. Application names For some users, catchy But when looking to names get their launch an app, simple attention names were found more quickly Copyright © 2008 Create with Context, Inc. All rights reserved.
  • 36. Star ratings Star ratings can influence purchases, but are ‘taken with a grain of salt’ “I’ll still give it the benefit of the doubt [if it has a bad review].” “If a friend of mine liked it, I would try it [even though it had negative reviews.]” The reviews … I will go in and check them out, I won’t get swayed by the stars … Copyright © 2008 Create with Context, Inc. All rights reserved.
  • 37. Star ratings The reviews … I will go in and check them out, I won’t get swayed by the stars … Copyright © 2008 Create with Context, Inc. All rights reserved.
  • 38. Application pricing “$4.99 is reasonable” “Seems reasonable” “Would be a good price, although I’d be more willing to pay that for something like Quicken than for a memo pad.” $4.99 “It’s not bad … I'll do research to see if I should buy it.“ “That seems pretty inexpensive. If it was something I wanted badly enough to go looking for it, I wouldn't be hesitant to [buy it].” Copyright © 2008 Create with Context, Inc. All rights reserved.
  • 39. Application pricing “I'd wonder what it was, does it really have that much value to me? … Anything sub-$5 may not be a money-making enterprise, or has malware.” “I usually look at the apps that are Free or cost around $0.99 because I've gotten to used to the $0.99 iTunes store (for music).” “Very good, very easy to buy. $0.99 means it’s been around a long time, there’s a promotion going on, or it’s not a complex app.” “Not a huge difference (from $4.99)” Copyright © 2008 Create with Context, Inc. All rights reserved.
  • 40. Application pricing “Seems reasonable to me … for a World Clock widget with timezones, I'd pay that.” “Not a lot of money … would not be expensive, considering I’m doing it from an iPhone that costs hundreds of dollars.” “There's so much that's free … $14.99 seems $14.99 like an awful lot to pay. That's how much we used to pay for kids' software on the PC.” “I'd do extensive research, but I'd buy it. If [turn- by-turn GPS] was $50, I'd buy it right away.” “If you can get a PS3 XBOX game for $30-40, then $15-20 seems expensive for this platform.” Copyright © 2008 Create with Context, Inc. All rights reserved.
  • 41. Application pricing quot;Free trials, I love those.quot; “If it's $4.99 and they don't have a trial version, I'd say ‘forget it.’ I would not blindly pay for it, even if it did get a good review.” “I want a demo. I liked [Blue Skies Light] enough Free to buy the full version.” demo “I'd like to get the real app with a timeout. Light versus full creates confusion - are you getting all the features in the light version?” “If it worked out for me, I'd purchase whatever it was once the free one expired.” Copyright © 2008 Create with Context, Inc. All rights reserved.
  • 42. Application safety In many research studies we have done, users are especially wary of installing applications from third parties  Concerned about viruses  Worried about recurring surcharges and SMS spam  Don’t entirely trust the application provider (download website) These concerns were repeated among novice users  “[Worried about] breaking it temporarily, because I depend so much on my phone … I would think twice about apps I’m downloading.”  “If apps are not well-known to me, I wouldn’t do it. I've done things in the past years that have spammed my whole list of friends, things like that.”  “There’s a security concern when you download anything.” Copyright © 2008 Create with Context, Inc. All rights reserved.
  • 43. Application safety Although advanced users largely trusted that Apple had vetted things in the App Store, they still felt that a bad app could access or damage iPhone data “Apple has made [installing applications] so painfully straightforward, [that] I'm not actually quite sure what's going on. I'd like warning to know when the app is touching phone data.” “If there's just one review and it's a location-based thing, I'll wait. But if it has 300 reviews then I'll pretty much “if it has 300 reviews take their word for it.” then I'll pretty much take their word for it.” Copyright © 2008 Create with Context, Inc. All rights reserved.
  • 44. Eight rules of thumb Copyright © 2008 Create with Context, Inc. All rights reserved.
  • 45. 1. Take advantage of learned behaviors Users (especially novices) were most successful when they could transfer a specific behavior from one application to the next Make sure to follow both the recommended UI guidelines as well as any undocumented (but de-facto) cues in the built-in applications Copyright © 2008 Create with Context, Inc. All rights reserved.
  • 46. 1. Take advantage of learned behaviors Search boxes at the Search boxes at the top of the screen top of the screen Search boxes at the top of the screen Copyright © 2008 Create with Context, Inc. All rights reserved.
  • 47. 1. Take advantage of learned behaviors Major areas of Major areas of Major areas of functionality across functionality across functionality across the bottom the bottom the bottom Copyright © 2008 Create with Context, Inc. All rights reserved.
  • 48. 2. Avoid interaction inconsistencies While the UI guidelines are fairly consistent regarding how the various interactions work, there areas of conceptual inconsistencies For instance, most things in the interface can be directly manipulated by tapping; however, for others users need to first tap the Edit button Copyright © 2008 Create with Context, Inc. All rights reserved.
  • 49. 2. Avoid interaction inconsistencies Blue arrow to Blue arrow to see details see details Gray arrow to see details? Copyright © 2008 Create with Context, Inc. All rights reserved.
  • 50. 2. Avoid interaction inconsistencies (+) to create a new (+) to create a new calendar entry world clock Create a new bookmark … different icon, different location? Copyright © 2008 Create with Context, Inc. All rights reserved.
  • 51. 2. Avoid interaction inconsistencies Upper-left: Continue this activity, go down a level Upper-left: Go back from here, Upper-left: pop up a level Cancel this activity, pop up a level Copyright © 2008 Create with Context, Inc. All rights reserved.
  • 52. 2. Avoid interaction inconsistencies Tap Edit first, then interact with the item? Directly tap to take Directly tap to take action (editing) action (get directions) Copyright © 2008 Create with Context, Inc. All rights reserved.
  • 53. 3. Provide clear conceptual link across widgets Some did not readily understand link URL manipulation is in And page manipulation between buttons and two locations is in two locations search field Copyright © 2008 Create with Context, Inc. All rights reserved.
  • 54. 4. Put space between action widgets And became very One novice hit (+) confused when they instead of (>) landed in Add Event Danger! “I want it to take me [to Delete and Go December] when I side-by-side press on [the arrow]” Put action buttons far way from data entry buttons, especially if action is substantial Copyright © 2008 Create with Context, Inc. All rights reserved.
  • 55. 5. Plan for accidental overswiping Several users accidentally hit “Top 25” when trying to scroll vertically Copyright © 2008 Create with Context, Inc. All rights reserved.
  • 56. 6. Don’t rely exclusively on multi-touch Some users found “I assume whatever I pinching and touch … is going to unpinching to be take me to somewhere cumbersome else on the phone.” “I get the model, but my manual dexterity (won’t let me do it)…” Provide multiple methods to achieve the same action Copyright © 2008 Create with Context, Inc. All rights reserved.
  • 57. 7. Provide visual feedback for taps “I want it to go there when I press it” Copyright © 2008 Create with Context, Inc. All rights reserved.
  • 58. 7. Provide visual feedback for taps Grow “Add Event” pane from the upper-right Wrap entire pane off of Sweeping motion to the the left, bringing new left to indicate erasure one on from the right Copyright © 2008 Create with Context, Inc. All rights reserved.
  • 59. 8. Provide interaction affordances All novice participants figured out they could drag to scroll horizontally Images ‘show through’ header to indicate vertical scrolling is possible (Interestingly, one said “I buy music now without knowing what the cover art is”) Copyright © 2008 Create with Context, Inc. All rights reserved.
  • 60. Eight rules of thumb for iPhone app development 1 Take advantage of learned behaviors “Oh, this works just like the calendar” 2 Avoid interaction inconsistencies “This is weird, cancel is usually over there” 3 Provide clear conceptual link across widgets “This button must be related to that box, they’re next to each other” 4 Put space between action widgets “Oh man, I didn’t mean to send that SMS!” 5 Plan for accidental overswiping “I keep accidentally changing to a different screen” 6 Don't rely exclusively on multi-touch “It’s hard to do this while I’m holding something in the other hand” 7 Provide visual feedback for taps “Did I hit that button? I’m not sure.” 8 Provide interaction affordances “It’s obvious that you’re supposed to swipe left-and-right.” Copyright © 2008 Create with Context, Inc. All rights reserved.
  • 61. Thank you! Bill Westerman bill@createwithcontext.com