We have seen an extraordinary rate of growth in mobile use in recent years, with global mobile data traffic more than doubling for the fourth year in a row. It is predicted that by 2014, mobile will overtake fixed Internet access, and will continue to be the fastest growing platform for at least the next five years.
But why is mobile user experience still stuck in the desktop era? In today's era of prolific mobile usage, mobile authoring is stuck at a rudimentary stage, and continues to be defined by simplistic tools and processes such as market surveys and end-user inputs.
Historically, functionality and content have been the core components of all applications developed. Today, having these basic components alone will not suffice, engaging and fun interactions, contextual and location specific content, intuitive design, social centric information architecture have become the essential components of a mobile experience.
Here are the ways I think we can make for a better mobile usability experience:
Making It Personal: Mobile devices are inherently personal. Empowering the users to customize the applications is critical, but understanding the user's lifestyle and helping the user understand the task that needs to be done would help. If you look all the devices we use, most of them are designed to help us do less work. Today users don't like filling long forms and prefer a more interactive experience. Based on one action we can predict and trigger a set of tasks. For e.g. If I schedule a face to face meeting at NY, the application can suggest flights and accommodation based on my travel, current context and location data. Adding a layer of Artificial Intelligence (AI) can make the application more convenient. This would also enable users shape the application to fit their lifestyles, schedules and demands.
Deploying New Expertise: The rapid pace of evolution in the mobility space today requires service, application and content designers to understand lifestyles, activities, routines, environment and the ethnographic fingerprints of their end users.
Giving it a Social Slant: In the past, applications' structure and design were aimed at a single user "one user doing one particular task at any given time."Today, with social interactions interwoven in most mobile conversations, application architecture should allow the user to interact socially without hampering the buying process.
Making It Real: Visually intuitive design has further evolved with design elements looking like they are from the real world. Designing a real calendar look and feel is a great visual treat but it also eliminates unnecessary learning for the users. The three-click rule has been replaced by the "call to action" philosophy.
Adding Fun: One of the core ingredients that define the popularity of an app is its 'cool' factor. How you balance the animation, transition effects to have the right quotient of the fun factor is crucial.
The factors that impact user experience are diverse. But it is important to remember that an underlying knowledge of industry needs is just as important as the bells and whistles that technology provides.