Monday, April 16, 2007

Designing the Mobile User Experience

Designing for mobile devices ...

"I was fortunate to get an advance copy of Barbara Ballard's Designing the Mobile User Experience. In general, it is well-written, authoritative, and a boon to interaction designers working (or better, starting to work) in mobile. While I'm not sure this book alone will really enable you to design mobile user experience, it is a good introduction and overview of the mobile space.

It's great that, rather than dive immediately into application design, Ballard spends the second chapter on the needs and contexts of users. I like that her definition of "mobile" has nothing to do with the device, but is instead a characteristic of the user. It's the user that is mobile and is carrying the device. I was particularly drawn to the idea of user "microcontexts:" the social context, the physical environment, the application, and the interpersonal context of whom the user is interacting with all come into play.

Although the section on international usage patterns is good (albeit incomplete: no Korea or India?), Ballard makes some judgement calls that may only be true in the West. She says, for instance, that mobile devices being used by more than one person are rare. In some parts of Africa and, I believe, Indonesia, it is actually common. Families own sets of mobile phones and individuals simply take whichever one is charged and ready.

Ballard presents a number of different frameworks, models, and dissections that are useful for understanding the fractured nature of the mobile space. She presents a taxonomy of devices, a device hierarchy chart, the anatomy of Personal Computing Devices (PCD), and a method for selecting the device's technology/platform (something interaction designers rarely get to do)."    (Continued via O Danny Boy)    [Usability Resources]

Designing the Mobile User Experience

Recommended Book

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