User behavior of mobile devices and apps

Lately I have carefully looked at my own and other observations (notes and tests), studies and researches of user behavior and goal, aims and purpose concerning their use of mobile devices, services and applications. Users often have very altered aims that they wish to achieve when using their mobile devices than on PCs. People use their mobile phones, devices and smartphones for very different things and needs when they are on their way.
And I would estimate that just 1% or less of users would use their mobile device to look at a web site if they have a larger monitor or more suitable interface available.

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Evaluations on automotive, electronic and financial products and services sites on mobiles had shown as you would have thought no user wanted to use his mobile to research complex products, but they were keen to prove the value, price or rates of products when they are on the move. Often mobile users are just interested to look for / to search for a contact detail, which can take ages to find even when a site has been developed but not planned and designed for mobile use. The reason for this behavior is complex – a lot of the users just have mobile phones with small screens and bad connections and the majority of websites are developed just for PCs.

Furthermore I often observed that the users doesn’t select promptly and fast the first link that looked like it would take them to relevant information or get them to or closer to their aim, they carefully looked at and examined all the options on the page to decide which to choose. In other words this interaction behavior is influenced by fulfillment and optimization and less by satisfaction. This is the opposite of what we have to notice when we observe users’ behavior at PC interfaces.
This behavior reminds me what we examine 5 or more years ago when users browsed on PCs using dial up connections. Broadband has changed the way we do things. Even though the user had a fast connection, download speeds were not fast, too. On the one hand the reason was that these sites weren’t mobile optimized site. On the other hand the users were paying by byte. Devices like the iPhone, Palm Pre or the Nokia N900 have the opportunity to triumph over these problems – as long as you live and work in an area with good wireless coverage.

My attitude is that a firm or company looking to build their first mobile web site should identify and concentrate on a small number of user goals. And the mobile site should support and concentrate on doing this well. These firms and companies should keep in mind – sometimes less is more! Mobile applications should be smart and easy.

Signs are pointing to the fact that mobile marketing is getting closer. Technology and mobile devices are improving and the demand for mobile internet is increasing. More importantly, the mobile devices are one of the most effective channels of communication. It is now common to see young and old on the street grooved to their mobile phones and lost in their conversation. And teenagers move on the streets playing mobile games. In Europe, America and Asia, especially, where the main manner of communication is via the mobile, the mobile phone is a platform that is becoming increasingly interesting for marketers and brands.

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The key is to support the user by making their lives much easier through suitable information, context, functions and features. Well – that’s not new – not new to us – we are familiar with UX – but it’s uncommon to our clients all too often – a lot to do – a lot to consult.
Mobile applications can’t be just a cloned desktop app. It should or have to improve user experience that is relevant to the brand goals and expectations, allow content and service personalization and remove barriers to access. This means that firms and companies will need to provide content and services that will help the user to save time, money or make their life easier and more interesting.
For some sites the goals of the user on the move are fairly obvious, for most sites they are not. In which case, research with the target audience to work out the goals to be supported is essential.
Advance improvements in mobile technology, applications and devices on the one hand and on the other reductions in the cost of data, devices, will expect to see more advances in communication, commerce and convenience.

Well, just as with other digital and communication channels, it is not just about the advancement of the technology - companies must understand how mobile strategies can suit into the total communication strategy of the company and to their users and customers.

If you going to develop an application for mobile use – you should take in consideration:
… Target groups and persons
  • Goals
  • Aims
  • Needs
  • Individual experiences
  • Knowledge
  • Age
  • Keenness and willingness

… Mobile device (of the particular user)
  • Hardware
  • Software
  • Screen Size and Resolution
  • Interaction Options
  • Touchscreen
  • Qwertz keyboard
  • Virtual keyboard
  • Motion Control
  • or as so often just a small keyboard ( 1-9,0,*,# )

… Locations and situation of use
  • Download and upload quality
  • Brightness, reflection
  • Circumstances
  • Environment

… Costs of use
  • Flat rate
  • Data plan
  • Prepaid plan

… Overall communication aim and strategy
  • And the mix of all relevant communication channels

we have to be aware of the UX planning and design process and work as a team – sometimes the X stand for eXperience and another time for eXpectation.

On Mobile User Behaviour Patterns - Milan Vojnovi´c - Microsoft Research
Personal, Portable, Pedestrian – Mizuko Ito, Daisuke Okabe, Misa Matsuda