Mobile Web Applications: Usability Factors by: Vishal Yashavant Vaidya | UsabilityFactors.blogspot.com | [email_address]
Mobile Web Applications : Usability Factors Though, it’s ‘always-with you’, ‘personalized’ way to access internet, it has several limitations. Let’s understand the limitations of the mobile web application environment: Usability is a determining factor of success in the mobile internet apps. Limitations:
Screen ‘Real Estate’ issues : resolution limitations as compared to desktops / notebooks / netbooks.
Browsers: Various browser renders site differently on different devices.
Hardware limitations: Processor speed, RAM, ROM, Form factor
Expensive Data Usage : Data usage charges may be heavy.
Mobile Web Applications : Usability Factors While we design the site / applications that’s suits best to various mobile devices / browsers / connectivity aspects, we MUST consider several ‘factors’ that contributes to a better ‘mobile web user experience. We ideally should follow as much as of these guidelines, so that the site / applications designed for mobile-specific environment becomes more usable. Better the user experience, more the successful application would be! Here we start… We can ‘enhance’ the user experience of web on mobile, by following certain guidelines, to overcome limitations as much as possible.
Mobile Web Applications : Usability Factors Generally, users are accessing the web on mobile for their immediate needs , for e.g. locating the nearest cafe or finding the closest Theater or for a short-spanned entertainment. In Such users, " quickness " makes a lot of difference, time being a ‘crucial’ factor. In such cases, understanding the users' immediate requirements & assisting them to fulfill them quickly enhance the experience of your application. 1. Address users' requirements as ‘quickly’ as possible:
Mobile Web Applications : Usability Factors Screen "real estate" is very valuable & precious when it comes to mobile devices & so, needs to be used wisely. Mobile devices have varied screen sizes. For such various but limited screen sizes, what gets delivered upfront, " above the fold ", does make a difference. DO NOT repeat the main navigation on every page, as it pushes the content down, generally "below the fold" making it inaccessible for the user. Also, make sure you place it on the homepage as that being an entry point to the site. 2. DO NOT repeat the navigation on every page.
Mobile Web Applications : Usability Factors Entering text on a mobile phone can be more painful than on a conventional desktop-based input mechanisms. Make sure your design allows the users to input the text in an easier way. Allow them to choose by selecting an item instead of manually entering the text (as it’s even more error-prone). Also, use the markup to assist certain features in the content. For example, a Telephone number displayed can be used to call the particular no right from there itself, instead of copying the phone number or manually entering it on the dial pad. 3. Make user inputs simpler.
Mobile Web Applications : Usability Factors Mobile phones generally have lesser cursor control , as the pointing device is either joystick or the directive buttons on the phone. But, even these controls may not work as desired as sometimes choosing the selection can scroll down the page if the control is not selected properly. So, indicating what's selected is another important factor so that user doesn't get frustrated by selecting something wrong which he didn't intend to. Show the selected link by highlighting it with different color or something similar & viable. Some browsers has built-in mechanisms that automatically indicates when a user is on a certain control or link in the page. 4. Indicate clearly what is selected.
Mobile Web Applications : Usability Factors Provide only essential & relevant information on every page. User's generally pay for all the content they see on their devices & so, for them, any inessential data downloaded is a pain, because THEY have to pay for the content they never wanted to see & gets frustrated. Reading habits would also vary from desktop to mobile device. Content designed for mobile web also needs to be crisp & to the point, as the users will not be interested in reading any typical junk on their devices which they are not interested in & have to pay for it. 5. Inessential stuff to be kept out!
Mobile Web Applications : Usability Factors Make sure you place basic controls to navigate on the site, such as "back to home, back to search results" & relevant ones. Use contextual menus if required & only if they are assisting the user (preferably limited to 2-3 short links). In most of the cases, though devices / browsers has a ‘back’ button option, it is advisable to include a back button on every page. 6. Make sure that basic controls are always available!
Mobile Web Applications : Usability Factors Imagine, using a website / application which has saturated or dark-colored interface in a bright light conditions! If you do, you will not be able to see the interface clearly & the application usefulness may reduce. So, you should know the users & their possible environment in which they may use this application and you have to design the site accordingly. Such factors like lighting conditions does affect the visual design affecting the usefulness of your application in such environments. Note: Compare the above screenshot with other examples shown in the presentation. Readability is higher in other screenshots. 7. Environmental Factors.
Mobile Web Applications : Usability Factors Visual designs for mobile sites / apps, unlike for desktop browsers, are different in terms of layouts (no landscape preferably as most of the device will render the sites to suit to portrait form), usage of graphical elements (to be kept viable to optimize the download speed & to reduce the data usage for being cost-effective for the end-user). Precisely, you need a quite different & sensible visual design (keeping in mind the brand elements, etc.) for mobile applications as against the conventional desktop-based websites, to optimize the user experience. 8. Mobile-device-friendly visual designs / layouts.
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