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Increasing user satisfaction on the mobile web: Technical considerations

Published by Martin Kleppmann on 11 Dec 2007.

As part of the re-launch of Ept Computing’s website I’ve also published a white paper on user satisfaction on the mobile web. Some of it consists of observations which I’ve previously blogged about, now pulled together and presented in a more coherent and structured manner. I’ve structured it according to some interesting findings from the Online Publishers’ Association. They surveyed mobile web users and found that their main sources of dissatisfaction with the mobile web were:

  • site load time
  • site navigation
  • user friendliness

While I’m not quite sure what they mean with “user friendliness” – it’s a kind of compound term for all sorts of factors which contribute towards the user experience – the other two, load time and navigation, are very clear areas which need to be addressed if the mobile web wants to move forward.

Site load time is a tricky problem to address, because slowness is mainly due to packet round-trip times on mobile data services. I see Ajax and Flash to be the most promising approaches to beat the network latency – i.e. transferring more data up front in order to make the site more responsive once it’s loaded. Site navigation is mainly a question of information architects figuring out how to present information most effectively on a mobile, and there are already some very good examples of good mobile navigation design on the net.

If you’re interested, you can download the white paper (PDF, 124 kB). Here’s the abstract:

The use of internet and web services on mobile devices is expected to revolutionise our attitude to information and communication in the near future. However, in order to attract mainstream adoption, the mobile web must overcome some fundamental user experience problems. In this white paper we approach the user experience from a technical point of view, explaining reasons for deficiencies of the current approaches, and introduce some technical means for improving the user experience.