Usability and the mobile web

25 Jun 2010 - 10:51am
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etoriello
2010

With new fashionable devices like the iPhone or the iPad, the mobile web has boomed. According to ComScore, global leader for analysing web trends and practices, the mobile web really exploded in the last 2 years. Between January 2008 and January 2009, the number of Americans accessing internet through mobile devices went from 36.8 to 63.2 millions. PC, mobiles or tablets website wireframes are more essential than ever.


The daily use of the mobile web has increased even faster as 22.4% of mobile users used a smartphone in 2009, against 10.8% in January 2008.
The study highlights another key point. The new use of applications on smartphones allowing users to get access to their social life online through Facebook and Twitter applications gave a real boost to the use of the mobile web.


The Nielson Norman Group carried out a serie of tests in July 2009 in order to assess the usability of webpages on mobile terminals. More then 20 sites were reviewed on 6 different devices. The results of the analysis highlight striking difference… not in favour of mobiles. According to the report, only 59% of mobile users completed the task they were asked to do, against 80% for traditional PC users.


Among the sites tested, some were specifically optimise for mobile terminals whereas other were tested in their original version for regular computer. This comes as no surprise : websites optimised for mobile get rated 20% higher for usability and navigation issues. Regarding usability, the smartphones are also rated better than traditional terminals. Results are particularly good for Apple’s iPhone that obtained a task completion rate of 75%, against 55% for other smartphones (and 38% for classic mobile phones).


For this particular study, several criterias were taken into account like the screen and keyboard size as well as the site architecture and bandwidth perfomances. « On most phones, the screen is too small. It’s hence not easy to open several windows at the same time. The keyboard typing is rather slow and hazardous » stated the study that encourage webmasters to develop their websites through website wireframes to create effective cross-browser, mobile versions of their websites.

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