From unusable to irreplaceable
09 November, 2011 | Web design
Technology evolves so fast but it doesn’t always catch on immediately. New technology can scare people but as with most things once you get used to it, you can’t live without it but the struggle to get your head around the device in the first place can be difficult.
With the huge boom in Smartphone users, predictions have suggested that by 2015 there will be more mobile web user over that using the PC.
But what will we lose as we move to mobile computing...
Obviously mobile computing brings a ton of amazing benefits; your computer is always with you, use the web wherever and whenever you need to and having the ability to capture and process data on the spot without having to be sat behind a desk.
Challenging parts of mobile computing
New technology always comes with its challenges; this can be from both a developing and a user’s point of view.
These challenges don’t just come from the usability but from swaying people from old technology onto the new.
Not so many years ago, I can remember what everyone was saying about the iPhone?
“A small touch keyboard... I can’t use that”
"Touch interface with slidy bits, too fiddly for me"
"It’s massive, compared to my Nokia 5300"
Nowadays most people wouldn’t be able to live without their iPhone...
Obviously back in the day smaller was better, until high resolution screens took over! These days as long as it’s light and fits in your pocket its fine.
Although what we lose from the PC is size. Smartphones are still small devices, meaning all those interface elements need to be small. Websites on a PC have more space to play around with but shrinking that down onto a 4 or 5 inch screen can turn usability into a nightmare.
What we lose
The depth of our experience can be lost in a wide variety of ways as we switch to mobile environments.
Small devices aren’t easy for everyone to use so shortcuts can be created. With these shortcuts we can lose out on the depth of communicating:
- Texting shorthand where we now accept numbers and letters instead of complete sentences.
- Shortened responses in communication.
- Changing of communication channels from longer-format channels like email to shorter-format channels like Twitter and texting.
This isn’t necessarily a negative thing, as shortened words are accepted these days but sometimes it isn't sufficient to truly solve a problem or communicate an idea.
Mobile computing exceeds the usability of PC computing as you are able to use it anywhere but content rich text can be a problem for Mobile, just imagine writing an article as long as this on your iPhone!
But this wont always be the way. Apple's Siri is already working to get around the challenges of screen and interface by replacing it with voice.
By Luke Stanley