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FCW : July 30, 2013
July 30, 2013 FCW.COM 29 A review of website analytics prompted NCI's interest in responsive design. Even after developing a mobile web- site, the agency discovered that a great deal of mobile traf c was still coming to its desktop-oriented website, said Lakshmi Grama, senior digital content strategist at NCI's Of ce of Communications and Education. Respon- sive design could improve the experience for those users. "Every organization should...look at the analytics sur- rounding the types of devices coming to the primary Web channel," Cho said. On the other hand, some situations call for mobile apps rather than mobile websites. Examining frequency of use can help agencies make that decision. They should con- sider how often the intended users are likely to look for information or perform a certain task. Occasional use might dictate a mobile website strategy, while higher user demand could make a mobile app the better choice. Landwehr said users might prefer an installable app for sites they interact with on a weekly or daily basis. A mobile app also allows integration with other mobile apps and content, and the ability to interact with calendars, contacts and other mobile device features, he added. The hurdles Failure to test a mobile website or app ranks among the top pitfalls of mobilization. Experts recommend testing as a key component of an iterative design process. The idea is to put something in front of users quickly to uncover problems early in the design and development cycle. "When we design things, we want to make mistakes faster," said Gavin Lew, executive vice president of consult- ing rm GfK User Centric, citing an observation previously made by former Intel CEO Andrew Grove. Lew emphasized the importance of testing a design with naive users who t the target market and are asked to accomplish a particular task. Lew said he believes an effective approach is a moderated, one-on-one usability test where the moderator can observe the user and look for signs of frustration. He said the initial mockup can be quite rough, noting that " t and nish" should wait for later stages of develop- ment. The objective of early testing is to discover which design elements users nd perplexing and make the nec- essary changes in a new iteration. Projects fail when the coding starts too soon, he added. Listen to what users are saying "so when you start cod- ing, you are coding something that has been iterated a couple of times." Dingess also cited the importance of predevelopment testing. She said an organization can use a low- delity pro- totype to test a new navigation scheme, labels or feature set with users. Later, the organization can produce a more high- delity user interface design for multivariate testing. Allen said the development of Science.gov's mobile web- site included a regimen of testing and feedback. "The rst step was to provide a review of our audiences and primary user tasks --- a 'who' and 'what' exercise with the focus on keeping it simple," she added. The early testing involved wireframes, which are rudi- mentary website designs that developers use to spark dis- cussion and initial feedback. Colors, images, font choices, placement, and other navigational and content-driven ele- ments were tested within the bounds of Section 508 com- pliancy for users with disabilities, Allen said. The feedback from those early tests was crucial. "Based on the responses, adjustments were made and the design was nalized," she added. ■ Experts offer a few key points for agencies to remember as they delve ever deeper into mobile development. Keep an eye on content. Getting the interface design and user experience just right is important, but mobile content deserves its own focus. Nicole Dingess, direc- tor of user experience at NavigationArts, suggested that organizations audit their content inventory to nd common themes and objects. The content strategy should also take social media channels into account. Don t sacri ce testing for the sake of speed. Gavin Lew, executive vice president of GfK User Centric, said agile development's focus on quick code iterations, called sprints, can cut research out of the design pic- ture. "I think that's completely wrong, " said Lew, who recommends inserting a usability test every four or ve sprints. Plan for the future. Doug Brashear, mobile practice director at NavigationArts, said organizations should not focus their mobile efforts exclusively on the pres- ent, but should instead create a plan for the next three years. An agency relatively new to mobile could envi- sion its ideal future state and create a road map for getting there while identifying technical shortcomings to overcome along the way. A strategy, for example, might start with a mobile website and eventually move on to complementary mobile apps. --- John Moore Tips for mobile usability
July 15, 2013
August 15, 2013