Usability of websites on mobile devices

Jakob Nielsen has been undertaking some usability testing of websites using mobile devices.

His conclusion:

In user testing, website use on mobile devices got very low scores, especially when users accessed “full” sites that weren’t designed for mobile.

Doesn’t surprise me. Websites are usually designed by designers and often they focus on how it looks then how it works. This is bad enough when using a browser on a computer, but when it comes a mobile device as Jakob’s study shows, it doesn’t work well or doesn’t work at all.

The number of mobile devices is increasing and the amount of mobile web usage is going up as well. Designers of websites and e-learning content need to consider mobile devices now rather than wait until it is too late.


2 thoughts on “Usability of websites on mobile devices”

  1. I dont think its just sites for small screens that are bad.
    The usability of many sites is attrocious, a triumph of form over content. I blame Flash for a lot of it, pointless animations that just add delay while you wait for the flash app to download.

    The UI design of websites has gone steadiliy downhill, links that dont look like links, things that arent links that look like they are etc etc

    As for learning content, there remains the problem of the myriad of form factors and the possibility that the pedagogic value may be changed dependent on how much of the material is in view on screen at one time. But on the other hand other content is ideal for “chunking” and delivering in this way.

    Whilst we have institutions staffed by people who are happy to recycle the same lecture materials they’ve used for the last 30 years there is a problem.

    In some ways a similar problem that VLEs had/have a lot of people still not sure what the affordance of the technology are and with mobile devices they have the easy excuse of “the screens too small” (they arent too small, its the capacity of many people to thnk that is too small)

    Sites need more design input from User Interface designers a less from geaphic designers and nothing from people used to desiging for print 🙂

  2. I am a bit skint and so plod along with a PDA that does not support Java. It has Wifi but rather ironically I often can not access free services in the coffee shop etc as some crucial little button does not work. At least I can read BBC news and Wikipedia on the sofa without the kids wanting to get on the CBebbies website.

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