Usability of websites on mobile devices

July 24, 2009

Jakob Nielsen has been undertaking some usability testing of websites using mobile devices.

His conclusion:

In user testing, website use on mobile devices got very low scores, especially when users accessed “full” sites that weren’t designed for mobile.

Doesn’t surprise me. Websites are usually designed by designers and often they focus on how it looks then how it works. This is bad enough when using a browser on a computer, but when it comes a mobile device as Jakob’s study shows, it doesn’t work well or doesn’t work at all.

The number of mobile devices is increasing and the amount of mobile web usage is going up as well. Designers of websites and e-learning content need to consider mobile devices now rather than wait until it is too late.

iPhone

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Increase in mobile internet

March 20, 2009

The Guardian reports on the surge in mobile internet use:

Google UK today revealed that mobile internet use was surging thanks to the Apple iPhone.

The head of Google UK, Matt Brittin, said iPhone owners search online 30 times more than those who use rival smartphones.

Increase in mobile internet

With the imminent release of the Palm Pre and the Nokia N97 I think we can expect a further increase in mobile internet use.

Just under a year ago I blogged about the increase in the use of 3G because of the increase in the number of 3G dongles. More and more of these dongles were been bought and used, partly I would suspect to availability but also falling costs of 3G.

If you take that increase and combine it with the increase in mobile internet use (over 3G), add in 3G prices falling, you do wonder if the 3G network can cope with all this traffic?

Spread over a city and a town, probably will be okay, however what happens if you concentrate the use of 3G in one space (such as a college or a conference).

Well the SXSW Conference in American suffered 3G failure due to the sheer number of iPhone users at the conference. As Wired reports

AT&T’s 3G coverage map for Austin may look rock solid, but turns out there wasn’t enough connectivity goodness to sate the hordes of iPhone-wielding geeks who descended on this artsy Texas town for the South by Southwest conference this weekend. Was the Verizon and Sprint crowd, usually consigned to the kid’s table at these hip mob scenes, having the last laugh?

Attendees with their beloved iPhone 3G handsets hoping to hook up with friends, find the next party or access Twitter to announce their location are encountering dropped calls, unavailable service or molasses-slow web access from the mobile service provider.

If every student in your college is using a 3G device, an iPhone, another smartphone or a 3G dongle, will the 3G network be able to cope? If the 3G is spread across the different networks, then this may not be a problem. However what happens if all those 3G phone are provided by the college (or only one network works on the college site) suddenly you could find that the 3G network can not cope with the traffic.

We already know wifi can be problematic it’s now looking like that 3G network coverage may also be less than perfect. Something to think about when planning the use of mobile devices and mobile internet in a college or university environment.