The term “mobile-optimised” implies optimising for the device whereas in my role as a user experience (UX) designer I’m primarily optimising for the user of the mobile device.
For my current project I’ve been churning out sketches and concepts in an effort to ideate and cast the net as wide as possible before market research fieldwork kicks off in a few weeks. I’ve also been sketching (with words, rather than pictures) the vision of the project and deliverable to capture the essence of what I’m designing and it’s relationship to what’s considered the parent deliverable, the main website which is being delivered by the rest of my project team although I prefer to thing of the two sites as siblings.
I’ve been getting questions about how the mobile website will integrate with the main website and I’ve been trying to figure out how I can easily show how dissimilar browsing the web on a desktop computer is to using the web on your mobile phone or mobile device.
I put together this list of typical differentiating attributes of the two experiences. In some cases the reverse will be true … for example people using desktop computers are often in a hurry and don’t have time to waste and sometimes people using mobile phones are sitting in a hospital with hours to spare. But it’s a reasonable guide that shows how polarised the experiences are. Ultimately my goal here is to show that it depends on the contexts of use for the specific mobile app – iPhone, Android etc – or mobile website you’re developing.
|Large screen||Small screen|
|Desk-mounted monitor||Screen jolting around (while walking)|
|Fast internet||Slow internet|
|Have time to browse||Don’t have time|
|Quiet environment||Noisy, distracting environment|
|Have pen & paper to take notes||Hard to take notes|
|Sitting down||Standing or walking|
|Have separate phone||Phone and web in same device|
|Focussed on task||Multi-tasking|
|Artificially-lit environment||May be in strong sunlight|
Another important point is that most desktop computers will have a full 104-key (or more) tactile keyboard whereas tactile pads on mobile devices usually have 2 or 3 letters to a key. The full keyboards are typically on-screen such as on iPhones but are not tactile. This has a significant impact on typing speed and accuracy. The iPad is better when it comes to input because of the large screen size but when considering contexts of use it’s more like a laptop or desktop computer than a mobile device.
So developing a mobile alternative website is nothing like developing a standard website. Everything is different and you need to take all of these factors into account. Whacking on a mobile stylesheet just won’t cut it (but it’s better than nothing).
Have you got any suggestions for other big differences between using a desktop computer and a mobile phone or device to access information?
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