Mobile device switching, for improved productivity

Use Flow: User to submit press release from mobile device

Many of us working in the corporate world operate two mobile devices. In many instances the reason is primarily because the company has a corporate deal which involves an email exchange server and an associated Blackberry device policy. At the same time people have an additional smart phone for private use, like an iPhone. I know I do.

It’s widely accepted that certain functions work on some mobile phones but not on others and that operating those functions, like text documents, on different devices culminates in a better user experience. For example, trying to create and edit a document using an iPhone is seemingly easier than say the Blackberry (that does not include the manual operators, it’s the applications functioning).

During a recent usability test (testing a news wire iPhone app) I discovered that the participant did exactly as I do. When I asked how they would edit and send a document (press release) from their device they said they’d email the document from their work mobile device (the Blackberry) to their private mobile device (the iPhone) first, then edit the document on their iPhone before sending.

What contextualised findings have I learnt from the empirical usability test? Well, other than the specific functional insights originally set out, a) the only way to access work files is through the work device and therefore only good for emailing out* and b) workers are very good at finding alternative ways, albeit unconventional or perhaps inefficient, to complete tasks.

* phoning too of course

Amazon’s mobile user experience

I recently bought a new Macbook Pro whilst visiting Boston (Boylston Street Apple store). Whilst there I wanted to buy a case sleeve for it. To protect my new baby of course. Unfortunately, the Apple Store’s choice was limited so decided to look at Amazon later.┬áSo while on my way home from work this week I suddenly remembered I still needed to buy my sleeve. I immediately turned to my iPhone to access amazon.co.uk.

The moment you enter the site you notice its a stripped down version of its desktop equivalent. The mobile version really impresses me, not because it loads quickly, but because of how well Amazon seems to understand context. Amazon’s mobile offering empathises with users on the go and this is where the mobile site shines.

Do I really want to start navigating a complex e-commerce site on my iPhone whilst cramped on a commuter train during rush hour? Of course not – it’s awkward and all I want to do it locate the cover sleeve and buy it. I want to use complex navigation structures to find what I’m looking for, I want to use the search (massive box) as my primary navigation – location method. And I want to be presented with an easy to read and scrollable (vertical) list of returns. Furthermore, I want to enjoy a search results page that loads quickly and allows me to explore products without accidentally touching (clicking) other links. When I’m done – found what I’m looking for – I want to be able to add that product to my basket, check out and pay.

Finally, to complete my ‘mental’ transaction (check for correct change and leave = conventional shopping experience we know and trust) I want to switch across to my email and find an email confirming my payment and order.

Here’s a run down of my user journey using my iPhone on my commuter train:

Searching for ‘Tucano 13″‘

Amazon: Search 'Tucano 13"''

Amazon: Search 'Tucano 13"''

Amazon: Search ‘nothing found’

Amazon: Search 'nothing found'

Amazon: Search 'nothing found'

Amazon: Duragadget black sleeve

Amazon: Duraskin Black

Amazon: Duragadget Black case sleeve

Amazon: Purchased

Amazon: Purchased

Amazon: 'Add to Shopping Basket'

Amazon: Order Placed

Amazon: Order Placed

Amazon: Confirm Order

Amazon: Personal Details

Amazon: Personal Details

Amazon: Personal Details

Amazon: Confirmation (thank you)

Amazon: Confirmation (thank you)

Amazon: Confirmation (thank you)

Amazon: Confirmation email

Amazon: Confirmation email

Amazon: Confirmation email

Blog Action Day: Poverty meets digital

Today is blog action day so I decided to blog about how digital has in some ways helped relieve poverty. When I refer to digital I’m referencing mobile digital. The two words ‘poverty’ and ‘digital’ are worlds apart and hardly ever used together – they’re certainly not synonymous with each other.

As a South African, who immigrated to the UK ten years ago, I know that in 1998 (when there was poverty in many communities) virtually no one had mobile devices. A mobile phone was a luxury. I recently went to South Africa on holiday where to my surprise I found real evidence of advanced mobile infrastructure

Boundaries

I read with interest (and surprise) how countries buried in poverty are using mobile phones en mass. In many other parts of Africa where poverty exists the take up of the digital mobile is driven by marketing and not through community efforts. The digital boundaries are breaking down – commercially and physically. This is helping communities directly (access to help) and indirectly (job creation). Mobile phones are now ubiquitous in many impoverished communities.

Costs

Mobiles come in so many forms – from cheap to very expensive. Ultimately, no matter how technical/expensive your mobile device is the content that is accessed is hugely valuable – whether it’s SMS, web pages or the telephone.

Real life examples

An example of mobile systems helping poor communities include the M-Pesa system.

It’s a system of phone-to-phone payments useful to people who don’t have a bank account or nearby bank – i.e. most people in rural Africa.

The information carried on the new networks spans public health, medical care, education, banking, commerce and entertainment, in addition to communications among family and friends.

All our lives are rapidly being transformed by digital. One of the most profound areas evident of this is the mobile phone. Kudos to commercial Africa finding workable digital solutions.