Four Mobile UX Trends heading into 2014

April 28, 2013 4:00 pm

Four Mobile UX Trends heading into 2014

Over the last 18 months, the amount of smartphone and tablet research we’ve been conducting has gone through the roof. Our customers are innovating at a phenomenal rate, confidently informed by our research. It’s a good job our team is good at supporting innovation!

I think we all underestimated just how fast the mobile market would grow. Google is now saying that it is about to get more searches from mobile than desktop; revising its original prediction of early 2014. Another figure I heard from Google was that tablets/iPads are the fastest ever adopted piece of tech. Web usage stats on Boxing Day 2012, saw some pretty phenomenal shifts in platform use towards tablets.

So what trends are we seeing?

Sofa & bed is where your business case for a mobile strategy exists; the user on a bus is usually an edge case.

People need a good excuse to go fire up the laptop. As daft as it sounds, turning on the computer is now starting to become a chore that we have to think about. People love the instant-on of iPhone, iPad & their Android/Windows equivalents, hence we all now start a lot of our browsing on mobile, whilst sat on the sofa. Some research has found that 60% of desktop computer based web research starts on a mobile device.

[quote ]Prediction: Those that focus on broader mobile strategies over location specific strategies will win.[/quote]

Does everybody hold their phone like me?

Unfortunately (for designers), the public hold their phones and tablets in both landscape and portrait orientation. There seems to be no hard and fast rule for predicting what layout people prefer. We see people turning their devices naturally at different points in research. If your usability testing is suggesting that there is a favoured orientation – has your research protocol encouraged this behaviour? Do you have a camera or mount that encourages the user to hold the tablet in a certain way? Always make sure the participant can hold the device being tested in a natural manner to get better research findings.

[quote ]Prediction: Those that design mobile apps and sites with flexible/responsive layouts will perform strongest.[/quote]

Mobile is loved because it’s clean and simple – but is it sustainable?

The strong mobile experiences that people love and return to, are similar to the rich experiences they have on desktop but without the noise of advertising, upsells, re-marketing, waffle, etc. The size of mobile screens has forced us to focus on delivering concise user journeys without monetising every bit of screen real-estate. Any type of marketing noise/advertising on mobile is generally unwelcome to the user. So how do we fund the mobile experiences of the future if users are so hostile towards advertising? Just think about how you feel about the odd advert appearing on your iPhone Facebook app timeline. Do we need a new model to fund the mobile future? Google are hoping to keep advertising away from Google Glass – so where will Glass revenue come from?

[quote ]Prediction: We will see an increase in research that helps us understand how to monetise the mobile experience.[/quote]

Mobile expectations are hugely misunderstood.

In the rush to go mobile, user journeys continually run the gauntlet of being over simplified to meet budgets and project timescales. A lot of simplification to-date has been driven by the thought that a smaller screen means you need to deliver a simpler experience. This old-school thinking seems to suggest that: ‘screen size’ is proportional to the ‘scope of the experience’. i.e. the smaller the screen, the simpler an app needs to be.

The reality is that the immediate nature of mobile increases the opportunity for engagement, therefore we should be thinking more along the lines of: ‘number of opportunities to engage’ is proportional to the ‘scope of the experience’. i.e. mobile should do more than desktop.

[quote ]Prediction: Those delivering richer experiences on mobile will win.[/quote]

So, there you have four trends we’re predicting as we head into 2014. Mobile is shaping new behaviours and new expectations. It’s not for the faint hearted and it’s not something you can ignore. Just go look at your traffic logs and see the range of devices and journeys people are doing.

What are your predictions for mobile as we head towards 2014?