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SXSWi Panel: Mobile Application Design Challenges



  • Cheng
  • James
  • Poisson (radar)
  • Wilhelm
  • King

(They changed rooms without telling anyone. I was 10 minutes late, but at least I had company.)

Jones: Does some prototyping by putting post-it notes on blocks of wood.

King: User testing for mobile (while person is texting while driving or whatever) is more difficult than watching someone us a PC.

Wilhelm: Have people walk around with a block and ask them what they’d like to do with that block.

Q: What kind of metrics do you use when designing for mobile?

Poisson: Clicks are gold. Saving an extra click, multiplied millions of customers, is a lot of effort saved. Used instead of .com because .net is easier to type on a mobile device.

King: Does a lot with click tracking as well.

Wilhelm: Assume a lot of upload failure and interruption when dealing with files. Make sure that kind of issue handling is built in from the start.

Poisson: You need to think about about time limits and attention span limits much more than you would on a desktop application.

Jones: Need to think of a three-second attention span. No clicking off rules and conditions screens.

Q: You have all these inputs and outputs… Text, voice, photos, etc… What makes you try to write a custom app rather than shove everything over SMS?

King: Depends on what you need to do? Sending photos over SMS would suck.

Q; At Nokia, how much time do you spend designing beyond the phone?

Jones: It’s more about about the interraction between the cloud and the little thing you’re communicating with. More focus on connections to web services. Mobile makers kind of make the equivalent of a wiki stub asking themselves or others to fill it in later. By doing that pattern of stub-making gets you to open really interesting ideas.

Q: Flash lite is not supported by majority of phones. How does one go about testing one’s app on all these phones when emulators are not that great?

King: Flash Lite is an excellent prototyping tool, but not ready for actual design yet.

Poisson: For applications, you can’t build once and use everywhere. You need to know going in you need to prep for a range of devices. Know the platforms your users use and try to build for them.

Wilhelm: deviceanywhere, etc. You can check out and test other phones online. Not 100% accurate, but better than buying every different model.

Jones: Look at the presentation by Brian Fling yesterday. (My notes from Fling’s presentation.) Get five or so varried phones, and test against them.

Wilhelm: Try to group devices and find similarities and then test against examples in those categories.

Poisson: Join developer networks from mobile manufacturers. Lots of good information from them.

Q: What are your practical strategies on getting people to use your applications? Off-deck or on-deck?

Wilhelm: Off-deck: Distribution not managed by carrier. On-deck: Distribution by carrier. Off deck allows full-control of experience for user. Lots of pain to get on-deck. Some carriers have a lot of rules and regulations about what you can do in your application.

Poisson: Carriers still have some control when you’re off-deck. Just get your app out there, see what people want to do and go from there. If it works, carriers may come to you about tying your tool to their device.

Wilhelm: Maybe build teirs into your service.

Q: What do you think of development of browsers for phones?

King: Opera browser for mobile is great.

Jones: Look at what Fling said. Pare site down to attention-friendly components.

Q: Do you have any favorite resource for mobile design patterns?

Jones: W3C Mobile Web Initiative… Plus developer networks. We’re still learning this stuff as we go. Look up small services blog.

Posted in SXSW,SXSW Panels,Uncategorized at 1:45 pm

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