Imagine if you will the following situation.
It’s 2:00 o’clock a.m. You clumsily fumble your way into your Taxi. On the ride home you know you drank a bit more than anticipated. The Taxi pulls up to the curb side and you fall out of the car as you pass the driver some cash. A few moments of mindless stammering and you manage to make your way upstairs and lay down in bed. Before ending the night you want to get a quick post in on Facebook. As you pull out your Iphone you rush to load the app and click on the “menu” icon. Well you thought it was the menu icon and now you are simply punching the phone to do your bidding. Siri comes up to your delight, and you shout out “create twitter post.” Well, that is what you wanted to say. Instead in your state of inebriation you shout out “Thhwwwitter.” ”I’m sorry I do not understand.” Frustrated and waiting on the impending morning after hangover you collapse on the bed.
What does this have to do with creating a mobile strategy? Quite simply, your mobile strategy and success needs to adapt to the most unpredictable situations. What this entails is understanding how a customer will use your mobile application then throwing out half of your expectations. Expect the unexpected and you will move your design closer to reality.
THE PICTURE OF MOBILE REALITY
The drunk usability test (not recommended for all) gives you (provided you are sober) a different and extreme picture of the mobile design experience. It’s the ultimate test to understand how people may work with and use mobile apps each and everyday.
There are no perfect user scenarios that fit into the construction of a mobile app. Your best hope is that with the right amount of time, expertise, and money t that you have captured the majority of your user base use patterns. Even then you may not. This rift and expected user behavior has only become more obtuse.
If I could sum up mobile app usage (smart phones) years ago I would say the following. Smart phones tend to be used in short bursts — waiting in line, at the movies (Author note: this article was originally written in 2011 and then I was telling people mobile is now). Today this isn’t entirely true. Mobile devices are here to stay and it’s not just about phones, tablets, it’s about the future transition of these devices. AT&T ran a series of ads back in the early 90, showcasing the “future.” The voice over is Magnum PI himself (Tom Selleck). More recently Microsoft released a vision of the feature in the following video. What’s interesting to note from each of these is that mobile becomes much larger then what we have even today. The closest we have today to potential widespread adoption is wearable tech (Google Glass, Watches).
As humans we find comfort in an environment we are used to. I believe this is one of the biggest things we can still look forward to in the mobile space. This radically changes the definition of mobile to potentially any space, or area we could occupy. The environment adapts itself to the user which in essence means that any place we travel to becomes a mobile space experience. The challenge this brings to user experience designers is far beyond anything we face today (and this still holds true!)
Your expectation of your apps usage and the features and functions you provide must go beyond the here and now. Mobile has expanded. It’s not coming. It came! I for one look forward to even more captivating experiences we get to craft in the future ahead.
One thing is certain. You can build a web app for today & maybe for a year out, but expect in a short amount of time you will need to change and adapt this product. The build once mentality and forget it of the early 1990′s is dead and gone. People want new, fresh, and exciting experiences. And if you are not able to bring this to them they will eventually leave and go elsewhere.
I frequently have a lot of articles in draft mode. This one was written in 2011. As I was looking back at the content I still felt is was relevant. I decided to make a few more changes and publish it. I love looking back old content I wrote and finding some of the predictions still ring true. In the case of this article I was examining emerging mobile trends. Mobile usage and the definition of what is mobile will increase and it’s crucial to think about the evolution of the experience in small form factor beyond today but into tomorrow.