MM London Mobile UI comments

Acid2 on the hi-phones

Steve Ives talk I didn’t like. I didn’t like the thought that “user experience” testing was a novel thing. Putting the UI process down on paper is really basic. I also didn’t like the fact he advertised Taptu had 15-odd technology patents. He suggested I go to Google patent search to find what they are. No thanks and after visiting their Web page I don’t see anything innovative about mobile ring tone search. I wonder what kind of money they spend on doing “user testing” in their “mobile lab”. Opensource feedback channels are a lot cheaper and more valuable…

For example how do I leave a quick comment on Taptu’s feedback page? It says I have to log in! PLEASE. With Webconverger people leave really valuable feedback on a form that doesn’t even require an email.

My big problem with user experience testing described by Taptu and Scott Weiss was the short term nature of it. Getting a group of people in to test unfamiliar applications on unfamiliar devices for their impressions is just so naive. As mentioned before the opensource community feedback model is so much further advanced by being ongoing.

Scott Weiss’s Motorola comments were also disturbing. Using Motorola as an example of what happens when you don’t do their form of user experience testing was poor taste. His reasoning regarding RAZR‘s fourth soft key (wtf?) for Motorola’s poor performance of late was ever so slightly far fetched!

UI design and testing is rather relative. My collegue reminded me how first impressions of the Iphone was. Not good! Iphone won my respect over time. Another friend said to me how highly skilled testing really is. User experience is not really about getting people off the street and video-ing them.

Bryan Rieger’s talk on saving bytes by talking to your developers was better. But still a little misguided. Designers should know the limitations of CSS etc. on their target platforms like Iphone without “romancing” engineers. Bryan’s talk of a “less bytes” approach with say composite images was good, however he went too far by suggesting to generate graphics on the fly. Yes, that’s less bytes, but that’s very inflexible when you need a designer to change a graphic. Plus, most importantly, generating graphics from code doesn’t work on the most pervasive application platform on mobiles. The Web!

So uncharacteristically I didn’t ask any questions last mobile monday London UI because I thought I would just offend them if I spoke. To conclude I think their form of “corporate user testing” is far too expensive for the small company patent-free innovators. I don’t see how companies like Human factors can claim to have any “usability know-how”. Have you seen “Human factors” Web page? It’s overloaded! And the URL is laughable. If people are interested in usability and good UI design, check out useit and Edward Tufte.

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