8 May 2006

Usability: it ain’t easy [TelecomAsia.Net]

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Mobile phone user in Asia
With more advanced services rolling out across the planet, ease-of-use is becoming crucial to their success, but today’s user interfaces aren’t quite cutting it. Solving that will be a complex task, but the place to start is the users – not just by asking them what they want in future, but what they’re doing with their handsets now.

This is becoming especially true in emerging markets, which are already recognized as the next significant growth segment for mobile, but not at the expense of added functionality.

“Why should this only be for high-end markets?” says John Hoffman, CEO of integrated messaging start-up fastmobile. “Emerging markets could arguably benefit more from simplifying services than more developed markets. Many new customers are using a mobile phone for the first time, so you want to make it as simple to use as possible to help them understand and drive services.”

Either way, usability translates into real money, according to a report released last month by VisionGain, which says that a “robust and customizable” user interface (UI) that is coherent, logical and doesn’t require manuals or training for the user to figure out is one of the key elements that will drive worldwide data ARPU from $5 last year to $22 by 2011.

“The user experience is not just derived through network capabilities or handset design, its software or its hardware alone,” says VisionGain telecoms analyst and lead report author Prachi Nema, “but through the holistic experience delivered by all components of the handset and the network itself”.

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(via Usability in the News)

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