Sunday, May 07, 2006

Usability: it ain't easy

Making it usable for everyone ...

"With more advanced services rolling out across the planet, ease-of-use is becoming crucial to their success, but today's user interfaces aren't quite cutting it. Solving that will be a complex task, but the place to start is the users - not just by asking them what they want in future, but what they're doing with their handsets now

As the mobile industry moves toward more advanced non-voice services, from MMS and instant messaging to mobile TV and video calls, the underlying mantra for manufacturers, operators and apps developers alike has been a strikingly contradictory one: offer simple, easy-to-use services using mind-bogglingly complex technology. That means shielding the user from all that state-of-the-art wizardry behind the scenes, and making any new service appear as though it's so simple even your Luddite great-uncle could figure it out - ideally without once having to consult a manual.

It sounds obvious, of course - after all, new services aren't much use if no one knows how to use them. Recent metrics, however, suggest that many advanced mobile services are falling short of that goal. A November 2005 study of 6,800 consumers in Europe and Asia from mobile device management company SmartTrust declared that users trying to keep up with the latest features and services were suffering from "mobile service fatigue." Report author and SmartTrust comms manager Tim De Luca-Smith said that poor handset configuration and network settings were contributing heavily to slow take-up of services like MMS. While ease-of-use wasn't the sole factor found - concerns over reliability and pricing were also inhibiting use - 72% of consumers who reported problems when using MMS said they'd use the service if the usability issues were resolved. Consequently, De Luca-Smith said, there is "a real need to make such services more intuitive."   continued ...   (Via Telecom Asia)


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