The launch of Apple’s iPhone in Europe has highlighted the importance of the user interface on a mobile device. The innovative application of touch has improved usability, but this is only one facet of providing a good user experience.
With mobile applications it is very important to take into account the constraints of the wireless devices, bandwidth restrictions and connectivity issues. The applications and supporting infrastructure should be designed to ensure the usability of the devices by providing functionality that reduces the amount of data transferred to and from the device, and actively manages the device sessions.
This can be achieved by ensuring that the information transmitted and held on the device is kept to a minimum by utilizing compression techniques and filtering the data to the lowest requirements, along with the provision of session management capabilities. Mobile applications have to be fast and easy to use, or adoption will fall off very quickly.
Due to the limitations of the devices, mobile applications must not be too complex or require more than one or two clicks to access screens and input data. The skill is determining and deploying exactly what the user requires, rather than all the ‘nice to haves’ found in a desktop application. Many mobilization projects today concentrate on a specific enterprise application, such as push email, internet access, field service and sales force automation. In reality, mobile solutions need elements of information from a number of systems, including a location tracking capability. The ability to provide solutions that provide seamless access to multiple applications will significantly increase the value of the device to the user.
The current focus on touch and pointing should not preclude a vision for the future, which includes the combination of voice and data services accessed through a speech interface. It is envisaged that the next-generation networks will include ‘intelligent dial tone,’ where callers will no longer hear a dial tone when they use the phone but instead a voice browser will ask, ‘What would you like to do?’ The user can then request the service required, such as ‘call home’ or ‘where is the nearest bank?’ and the system will understand; it will then perform the required task, and return the information in the most appropriate medium.
Ease-of-use is a prerequisite in the extended environment. Poor design of the user interface poses a major risk to the success of mobility initiatives. Clear communication between the mobile application designers and end-users is essential, as is utilizing the right interface technology for the particular needs of the user.
Source: OpinionWire by Butler Group (www.butlergroup.com)