November 7th, 2009
Its a funny thing having an iPhone, ok funny and expensive, ok funny and expensive and slightly obsessive - but that wasn’t my point
All of a sudden the way I use Internet connectivity has changed, and im not just talking about lack of a flash player for videos. Suddenly I find myself moving away from using a browser and towards using applications. And they are often stunningly simple to use and understand. Let me give you an example :-
www.thetrainline.com is a pain within a browser, clunky and with a layout I hate. But, the touch interface for the iphone is simple and fast and runs from within its own app. Similarly YouTube, eBay, even the BBC news are so much easier to navigate through a bespoke application, whereas web browsing on both the PC and even more so on my iPhone seems determined to make getting to my information more not less complicated.
Of course there are lots of paralells - Google killed most search engines but having the simplest search interface you could imagine. Facebook is beating MySpace because MySpace is such a mess to use. Ease of use is really starting to become king.
Of course that doesnt always help, these simple apps arent always AT compatible, and rarely respond to trying to increase font size etc but a simple interface goes a long way to mitigate that.
There are paralells with web development. I may have mentioned before that Im a Man City football fan, again pretty obsessive, and until this year a masochistic pursuit likely to lead in high levels of frustration. But of course this year I’m really enjoying my daily news. And its so more enjoyable on my mobile phones, pages present information more quickly, there is less clutter, layout is easier to navigate and funnily the lack of flash means I get far less irritating material loading up to annoy me. Going to the BBC sport pages is actually a more productive experience on my phone, and the Manchester Online page should only ever be viewed on a phone in my opinion.
The upshot is, that basic and core ease of use design principles are being applied far more effectively for mobile content than for computer ones, thats partly to due to bandwidth and partly because developers are having to think about ow users are accessing their pages. With minds attuned to minikeyboards, small screens and touch, the presentation is becoming easier and easier to use
This sounds like good news, lets hope the folks do the mobile web pages have the attention of the folks on the big pages. In this case their little brother might just be showing the way.