IDG Contributor Network: 7 mobile usability success factors

What do phones and toothbrushes have in common? Both are personal items that you can’t live without, that you wouldn’t loan out. This is a topic that came up recently recently during a seminar I give, “How to Evaluate and Improve Mobile UX.” It’s difficult to deny how important mobile usability is as the research and statistics support how the mobile platform is now more prevalent than desktops. Some companies are even going with either a mobile-first or mobile-only strategy.

We all know how critically important the mobile platform has become in our lives by just asking these questions.

  • Who leaves their home without their mobile phone? And if you do, do you go back and get it? That tells you how important it is, not only to you, but those trying to reach you.
  • Next, would you loan your phone to someone else? This tells you how personal we’ve become with our mobile devices. It’s almost like a toothbrush, you just don’t loan it out!

As many corporations roll out their mobile strategy, whether it’s converting their website to a mobile-friendly site, app or platform, developing a whole new app to capture a mobile segment, or service a mobile specific audience, many companies don’t realize how important mobile usability is to the equation for success. This article discusses seven key points in designing mobile apps to optimize usability and increase the chance for success.

1. Analyze the task at hand

I’ve worked with many companies that want to simply convert their web functionality into mobile and want to move all functions and content over to the mobile platform. That approach may sound simple, but it doesn’t work. The content and functions on the mobile platform should be specifically optimized for that platform. When examining the top tasks that users will perform, list them by importance and frequency. Of course the result should have no tasks that are infrequent and not important. This will leave two other categories; frequent and important, not frequent and important. Note that frequent and not important does not exist!

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