The importance of context in assessing the user experience of mobile devices

In her blog gotomobile design ethnographer Kelly Goto reflects extensively on the importance of context assessment and the challenges of usability testing when assessing the user experience of mobile devices, as opposed to other electronic devices.

“Surrounding the entire mobile user experience, and setting it apart from the experience of using other web-based or electronic devices, is the all-encompassing factor of context.

Since the product or service is expected to be accessible at all times and in such a variety of situations, insights into the end-user’s lifestyle is far more critical in the mobile industry than it is during the development of more traditional products.

How, when, why and most importantly – where interaction takes place – are major considerations that are often overlooked or disregarded during the authoring process. Accurate testing should always consider context.

For best results, the user-centered approach employs not just traditional marketing research techniques, but also contextual inquiry, or methods that involve asking questions and observing within the subject’s own context.”

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