Saturday, March 22, 2008

7 usability guidelines for websites on mobile devices

Usability design tips for mobile devices ...

"More and more mobile phones users are browsing and searching the internet on their handsets. The UK, for example, has neared saturation for mobile phones and many handset browsers can now handle sites designed for viewing on computers. Indeed 20% of UK mobile phone users now use the internet on their mobile devices.

If you design websites for PC viewing then you need to consider how your sites will look and work on mobiles. The bar for mobile specific sites has been raised by some good sites and others need to close their gap. As the mobile internet has developed savvy users have come to expect higher standards when browsing on their handsets.

These 7 guidelines are based on actual user research conducted with mobile phone users. Users were asked to carry out typical tasks on popular websites using a mobile phone browser. The issues they encountered were used to produce these guidelines.

1. Meet users' needs quickly
Mobile and PC users can have different reasons for visiting the same site. Mobile users are more likely to want information to help them at that location or time, such as finding directions or finding out what's going on nearby. Also, they might want quick entertainment to pass away a short period of time, like something to read on the bus or while waiting to meet a friend. For your site, predicts users' needs and fulfil these as quickly as possible. Exceptions to this are items people download to keep on their phones (e.g. buying ringtones).

Yahoo! does this effectively with its new mobile oneSearchTM service. Searching for 'Cinema' produces a list of cinemas near users' location showing their address and phone numbers. Clicking the 'Call' link next to a number opens a call dialogue box on the phone. A further enhancement would to be enable users to click through to a map of a venue.

2. Don't repeat the navigation on every page
Usable websites designed for PCs usually repeat the navigation on every page. However, screen real estate is precious on a mobile screen and navigation can push content off screen. BAA's navigation, for example, takes up the whole screen so users have to scroll down far on every page to get to the main content.

For your website on a mobile, only display the navigation on the homepage. On other pages only include links back to the homepage and back to the last important point along the path users have taken. Show these links at the top and bottom of the page so they're never too far away. BBC Mobile does this effectively with a clickable breadcrumb trail at the top and a list of links at the bottom."    (Continued via i.t. wales)    [Usability Resources]

BBC Mobile - Usability, User Interface Design

BBC Mobile

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