AnswerLab has been at the forefront of mobile user experience research since 2005, when we helped Yahoo! develop their first mobile web site.  With the launch of the iPhone 4S and voice-activated mobile experiences, we are confronting another game-changing way we engage with our mobile devices.  It seems like an opportune time to reflect on the insights we have developed this past year over the hundreds of hours we have spent with mobile and tablet users for clients in the retail, online search, IT, and financial services industries.

Here are some of the key insights into the mobile user that we’ve discovered:

  • First Impressions Count… A LOT: Users’ first experience with a mobile application has a strong impact on their brand perception and interest in further engagement; a poor first experience with a mobile application can cause brand aversion and an increase in consideration among competitors’ offerings.
  • Security:  Mobile users express more concerns about security while making purchases on their mobile phones than on their computers.  They want assurance that their billing and shipping information would be securely handled.   Users comfort level is increased when viewing a secure login “lock” icon or messaging regarding security of the site.
  • Efficiency (time) is key – With the possibility of a dropped signal, incoming phone call, or other interruptions while out in the world, users need to be able to quickly complete their task.  For example, when making purchases, users appreciate the ability to quickly checkout using previously saved billing/shipping information.  They expect a simpler checkout on a mobile phone without extraneous content as well.
  • Ease of Use: Pinch and zoom can be fun, but it’s better to just make the elements easily clickable on the small mobile screen – users will tire of having to pinch and zoom every time they want to click a link or select a button.  And keep in mind that mobile “conventions” are still gaining awareness and users need help figuring them out.  Don’t assume they’ll “just know.”  Conventions that span the general web and mobile have a good level of awareness, but emerging conventions for mobile specifically can be really confounding for even more experienced users if they aren’t obviously discoverable and understandable.  Of course, testing helps with this.

Leverage what AnswerLab’s Mobile UX Research Team already has learned about the mobile user for your next project.  We can focus on answering the hard questions about developing digital initiatives specifically for the mobile space.  Contact us to learn how we have helped clients increase app discoverability, design mobile sites, and develop cross-platform mobile strategies.