By now, it’s no secret that making mobile products has a unique set of design challenges. All companies and individuals making mobile products struggle with this. Finding the right balance between power and ease of use on a 3″ – 4″ screen is hard.
It really all boils down to the natural rule of features:
More features => harder to understand, more useful.
Fewer features => easier to understand, less useful.
So if you just add more features, without applying careful thinking about the whole experience and especially the experience for new users, you’ll inevitably make a complicated product.
When I was working at a small web development shop in Iceland, we developed a lot of applications. Some of those applications were used by what you would consider the “older generation” and/or “normal users”. Working at a small company like that you need to wear many hats, so usually what would happen is that I would end up teaching the end users to use most of the applications I developed.
I really hated it and I’m guessing most developers do, however, I would also say that it taught me a lot at the same time. It would even be safe to say that it shaped how I see user interfaces today.
In this post I try to cover a few of the common patterns that I noticed among users with less computer understanding.
Jakob Nielsen recently published this post, where he (and I guess his team) analyze why the Wall Street Journal mobile app gets such bad customer reviews.
It all stems from a horrible interface where the customers are led to believe that they need to pay separately for the monthly subscription to to the mobile app, when in fact it’s free for existing subscribers.
I just received the monthly Dreamhost newsletter – the November 2010 edition, to be exact. As usually it made me smile. It starts out like this:
Usually, when you need to put something down, you just place it on the next table and don’t think much about it. After a few days (or weeks/months/years) your appartment looks like shit and you have to clean it up. How do you clean? One thing at a time.
So one by one you take each item lying on the floor, on a table, in a shelf and find it a new home. Sometimes you can see a pattern in all your stuff that’s lying around and you might find a good place to put many of those things, like a cupboard a drawer, etc. Often you’ll already have great places to put them in, so you put them there.