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Twilight Recap: Designing the Mobile User Experience

Mark Delaney, Intergen’s User Experience Design team lead went on a whirlwind tour last week to edify eager attendees on the considerations and opportunities when designing the mobile user experience.


The message was simple. More users are accessing the web from more places on more devices than ever before. This means that in every project you do, you must address a mobile strategy. Your strategy will differ depending on what type of project you’re working on, but you do need some kind of strategy for how your website (or your client’s website) functions in the mobile space. Whether you’re designing a site that is mostly static, a content-driven news site, or an interactive web application, it’s best to pursue a well-rounded approach — one that includes a thoughtful look at your mobile website user experience.


In this Twilight Presentation Mark talked about:


Why care about mobile?

Mobile is growing like crazy. Smartphones were boldly predicted to out-ship the combined global market of laptop, desktop, and notebook computers in 2012. They did so in the last quarter of 2010 - two years earlier than predicted! So it’s not hard to imagine how another bold prediction like “mobile phones will overtake PCs as the most common web access devices worldwide by 2013” will happen much earlier than predicted as well. This growth provides a plethora of opportunity for your site and/or services in the mobile domain.


Design for humans

Mobile context is the designer’s blindside. Unlike the static and predictable PC context, the mobile context is a lot like life. It’s unpredictable, ambiguous… it’s everywhere and anywhere. The mobile context is about the environment and circumstances of usage — anything that affects the interaction between the user and the interface. The implication of this is that mobile experiences should be designed for partial attention and interruption. Instead of forcing users to dive deep into menu structures, you must get people to the content and functionality they want intuitively and quickly.


Mobile First

For years, most people have designed websites  for desktop and laptop computers. Designing for mobile for mobile first suggests a website’s mobile experience shouldn’t be an afterthought – based on the explosive growth of mobile web traffic, as well as the exciting new technical capabilities of modern phones. The available screen ‘real-estate’ available on mobile devices require designers to focus on only the most important data and actions. Mobile first results in an experience focused on the key tasks users want to accomplish. That's good user experience and good for business.


Responsive Web Design

In the field of Web design and development, we’re quickly getting to the point of being unable to keep up with the endless new resolutions and devices. Responsive Web design is the approach that suggests that design and development should respond to the user’s behaviour and environment based on screen size, platform and orientation. As the user switches from their desktop to tablet, the website should automatically switch to accommodate. In other words, the website should have the technology to automatically respond to the user’s preferences. This would eliminate the need for a different design and development phase for each new gadget on the market.


Mobile Prototyping

Mobile prototyping is essential. Unlike the PC, the mobile design space is relatively new and emerging. In lieu of experience and heuristics, the best way to develop mobile design skills is to practice turning the brilliant ideas in your head into tangible experiences. Prototypes provide you with a tangible artefact in which to gather feedback with people outside of yourself and your team. They are the perfect tools for user testing assumptions. If you want to develop your mobile design decision-making skills, you’ve got to get into the practice of prototyping – early and often.



Contact Mark Delaney to find out how Intergen’s User-Centered Design approach can benefit your mobile project. Mark.Delaney@intergen.co.nz.


Posted by: Rose Harris, Marketing Assistant | 13 September 2012

Tags: Mobile, Twilight recap

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