Last week, I had the honor and privilege to attend the Mobile User Experience session as part of Usability Week Chicago. The conference was hosted by consulting and research firm Nielsen Norman Group (NNG), which specializes in user experience and usability. The full-day training course covered usability best practices for mobile websites and apps on mobile devices. Here are some key takeaways from the conference:
Mobile app vs. mobile website: which is better?
There are many reasons which favor developing a mobile app or a mobile website, but primarily you need to consider your budget, timeframe to launch, and the intended use. Mobile apps are great for repeated use and may function to support one streamlined task. On the contrary, mobile websites are better if data needs to be accessed through a web server and you want it to be easier for users to engage with your business.
Mobile apps are good for taking advantage of phone features and offline functionality. #nnguw
— Jonathan Levey (@jlevey) June 25, 2012
Features that make mobile sites usable
Some must-have elements include using a company logo in the header of each page and having a search box. Placing a company logo in the header of each page will help with branding and serves as a link back to the homepage. The best practice for search functionality on a mobile site or app suggests putting the search box at the top of the page.
Easy navigation on mobile devices
Users expect their mobile experience to be as good as their desktop experience, so a streamlined navigation menu should be included on the homepage. If your site has a deep navigation structure, consider using breadcrumb links in the header and only present the top-level pages in the navigation menu.
Writing and producing content for mobile devices
Since mobile users tend to spend less time on site than desktop visitors, it’s important to format writing that’s concise for quick reading. If you’re showcasing a list of products, be sure to include a thumbnail image next to each product and link the image to the product page. However, due to the limited “real estate” on smartphone screens, images should only be used if they add meaningful content.
The most important thing to note: Users are more successful when using mobile-optimized sites and apps than using full sites on mobile. As smartphone technology develops, so should your website. 982 million smartphones are estimated to be sold in 2015, and you better make sure your website looks and functions great on these devices.
Have you had a bad experience on a mobile website or app? Leave a comment and let me know of the culprits.