Mobile users, tablet usability and form usability
We know mobile traffic is increasing, but it is important to understand what that really means and what we should do about it.
Many mobile websites make the classic mistake of assuming their users must be out and about. This is not true – huge amounts of mobile use is in the home. Other mobile websites have reduced content and functionality compared to the desktop experience, but this only serves to frustrate users.
I enjoyed this article by James Coltham, which highlights five key assumptions that we should avoid when thinking about mobile.
The key message is that although we know that different devices have different capabilities, we cannot automatically assume that this will affect what the user wants from the website.
In a similar vein, Jakob Nielsen has been looking at usability on tablets, and has concluded that most websites do not need special designs for tablets.
We found that most websites are fairly usable on tablets and need only limited adjustments to suit this environment. (In contrast, using websites on mobile phones requires many more design changes to accommodate the smaller screens.)
Not surprisingly, when we asked people how they use their tablets, web browsing was universally mentioned as a top activity.
Although tablet-specific applications have plenty of usability flaws, the problems are mainly the same as those that plague traditional application design: difficult features, a mismatch with user workflow, and poor instructions that people don’t read.
I recently came across this interesting article about how to make forms more usable. Forms are often tricky to get right. This article looks like a very useful overview of tips.