A Study on Icon Arrangement by Smartphone Users (Full paper at CHI 2013)


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The number of available mobile applications is steadily increasing. People have rapidly adopted application stores as means to customize their devices with various functionalities that go beyond communication. Understanding the principles of mobile application usage is crucial for supporting users within this new ecosystem. In this paper, we investigate how people organize applications they have installed on their devices. We asked more than 130 participants for their habits for icon arrangement and collected more than 1,400 screenshots of their devices’ menus to further ground our findings. Based on this data we can distinguish five different concepts for arranging icons on smartphone menus, e.g. based on application usage frequency and applications’ functional relatedness. Additionally, we investigated how these concepts emerge in relation to frequency of application installations, removals and icon rearrangements, as well as users’ experience levels. Finally we discuss implications for the design of smartphone launchers, and highlight differences to icon arrangement on stationary computers.

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A Study on Icon Arrangement by Smartphone Users (Full paper at CHI 2013)

  1. 1. A Study on Icon Arrangementby Smartphone UsersMatthias Böhmer and Antonio KrügerUbiquitous Media Technologies LabDFKI GmbH // Saarland University
  2. 2. 30y ago
  3. 3. evolution
  4. 4. today
  5. 5. today
  6. 6. today
  7. 7. How do peoplearrange theiricons?
  8. 8. - Barreau and Nardi, 1995 [2]- Studies on file organization on stationary computers- People put icons to special places- Shipman et al., 1995 [23]- People create implicit structureswhen manipulating layouts- Ravasio et al., 2004 [20]- People cluster documents by their types- People dedicate screen areas to different purposes- Ziefle and Bay, 2004 [27]- People built mental models of their phone menusRelated workRavasio et al. 2004 [20]
  9. 9. Study
  10. 10. Quantitative data, e.g.- number of apps- number of folders- number of icons on page- x/y position of iconsQualitative data- participants‘ experience levels- concepts of icon arrangement- participants labeled withoncepts„most used apps firstpage, groups of apps 2ndspace, then games“„most-used items shouldbe on the first page,otherwise I try to groupitems (e.g., news outletstogether)“...12Screenshot Studygrounded theorymajority ruletemplate matching
  11. 11. - 132 people have sent 1,486 screenshots- 22 women, 108 men, 2 unknown- 106 iPhone users, 26 Android users- Mean age was 28.3 years (SD 8.5)- 60.5% Germany, 11.4% USA, 4.5% UK- We cleaned the data set- We removed „Jailbreaks“ and iPod touch- 127 participants in final data setCharacteristics of data set
  12. 12. Findings
  13. 13. 5 concepts for arrangingUsage-based icon arrangementRelatedness-based icon arrangementUsability-based icon arrangementAesthetics-based icon arrangementExternal concepts for icon arrangementllll lllllllllllllABC123...=?
  14. 14. Example„I try to checkerboard alternate colors [...] most icons are blue,so on my first page of icons it alternates between blue andbrown and I try to keep that consistency“ (aesthetics-based)
  15. 15. Example„I try to checkerboard alternate colors [...] most icons are blue,so on my first page of icons it alternates between blue andbrown and I try to keep that consistency“ (aesthetics-based)
  16. 16. Co-occurrences of concepts(1) (2) (3) (4) (5)(1) usage-based(2) relatedness-based(3) usability based(4) aesthetic-based(5) external concepts62 % 28 % 6 % 2 % 4 %28 % 60 % 6 % 3 % 3 %6 % 6 % 9 % 2 % 0 %2 % 3 % 2 % 5 % 0 %4 % 3 % 0 % 0 % 9 %- Usage-based and relatedness-based most used- Participants applied hybrid concepts
  17. 17. Impact of concept on layoutNumberofappiconson1stpage2 01 51 050Frequency1 2 1 0 8 6 4 2 0Numberofappiconson1stpage2 01 51 050Frequency1 21 086420Not usage based-concept Usage-based conceptMore app icons on firstpage when applyingusage-based concept*iPhonedataonlyMore folder icons on firstpage when applyingrelatedness-based conceptNumberoffoldericonson1stpage1 41 21 086420Frequency2 5 2 0 1 5 1 0 5 0Numberoffoldericonson1stpage1 41 21 086420Frequency2 52 01 51 050Relatedness-based conceptNot relatedness-based concept
  18. 18. Context-related foldersLocations(e.g. cities, countries)Activities(e.g. shopping, watchingTV, traveling)
  19. 19. Grouping of apps into foldersPeople cluster follow-up apps- Camera apps w/ photo editing apps- Shopping apps w/ payment appsPeople cluster similar apps- Apps for sending text messages- Dictionaries- Music- Games
  20. 20. Android specific resultsWidgetIconRelativey-position(0:bottom,1:top)1,00,80,60,40,20,00WidgetIconRelativey-position(0:bottom,1:top)1,00,80,60,40,20,00WidgetIconRelativey-position(0:bottom,1:top)1,00,80,60,40,20,00WidgetIconRelativey-position(0:bottom,1:top)1,00,80,60,40,20,00WidgetIconRelativey-position(0:bottom,1:top)1,00,80,60,40,20,00Difference in icons and widgets- People put app icons to bottom- People put widgets to top
  21. 21. Other specific reasons- Have as few pages as possible for less browsing- One user tries to „put games in the back andwork apps to front, because it‘s a work iPhone“- Users have dedicated places for unused apps- For apps that „are never used but might comein handy some day“- „Land of misfit apps“- „Silly apps“
  22. 22. Discussion + Implications
  23. 23. Discussion- Better support for icon arrangement required- Context-aware menus should use level of pages- Locations of app icons can be exploitedto infer information about applications
  24. 24. Model for design of launchers- General model for the design of launcher menus:three zones that should fit to all usersmost used appsclusters ofrelated apps„land ofmisfit apps“
  25. 25. Conclusion
  26. 26. - Study about icon arrangement on smartphones- Five concepts (most users apply conceptsbased on usage frequency and app relatedness)- Implications for the design of launcher menus(support, context awareness, common model)- Data is available (see paper for URL)ConclusionABC123...=?llll lllllllllllll
  27. 27. ABC123...=?llll lllllllllllllA Study on Icon Arrangementby Smartphone UsersMatthias Böhmermatthias.boehmer@dfki.dehttp://bit.ly/iconstudyFive concepts (most users sort icons basedon usage frequency and app relatedness)Implications for the design of launcher menus(support, context awareness, common model)
  28. 28. Thank you!Computer from The Noun ProjectSmartphone designed by James Fenton from The Noun ProjectSergi Delgado, from The Noun ProjectTyler Sall, from The Noun ProjectMarcio Duarte, from The Noun ProjectLocation designed by John Caserta from The Noun Project