Mobile Usability

How can we improve on usability of smartphone usage

Jakob Nielsen ("the king of usability") reports that when using smart phones, user comprehension is half of that when using regular computers. He recommends that  "Websites must design a separate mobile version for optimal usability. Specifically, complicated content should be rewritten to be shorter, with secondary information deferred to subsidiary pages.".

In his mobile studies, Jakob Nielsen found the average success rate of carrying out a predefined set of tasks on a smartphone using standard websites was 53%. This is substantially lower than the roughly 80% success rate when testing websites on regular computers. However when their test participants used sites that were designed specifically for mobile devices, their success rate rose to a substantially higher 64%. This is a 20% improvement in usability - what could that translate into for your organisation?

Jakob Nielsen ends his report with some guidelines for designing for smartphones:

  • if budget allows, build an app
  • design for target screen-sizes
  • scale back the content
  • scale back the functionality
  • forward mobile users automatically to the mobile version of the site
  • link prominently from the web site to the mobile site