UX Fundamentals …
UX is a make or break facet of all consumer devices but none more than our ubiquitous smartphones. I did a review a couple of months ago on my Toshiba Portege G810, a neat touch screen Windows Mobile 6.1 cellular phone.
The phone does everything it’s meant to and a little more and thanks to the UI that comes installed most features are relatively easy to access and use.
Still touch screens not withstanding most cell phones seems to be missing the point on a few fundamentals: –
Call quality: at the end of the day it’s just a phone so lets have phone calls that don’t sound like the caller is calling from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Pretty much everything is a smartphone in one way or another and has more processing power than that desktop you had 10 years ago so how about a decent sound-chip, speakers and microphone? Apropos, don’t blame the carriers we know they give lousy QoS but it doesn’t excuse your hardware shortcomings.
Voice control: most bluetooth headsets come with the ability to voice control now and they are tiny little things. How come my phone doesn’t have this? Telling me its because I speak with an English – English accent isn’t going to cut it. I can learn to sound like Steve Jobs or Bill Gates if that’s what it takes to talk and get my phone to listen.
Voice Mail: why not give me a bakelite plastic case with an actual analog dial on the front of my phone? Voice Mail is a pain; if someone dials offer them the option of sending their message voice-to-text / to my email as an attached sound file – making me pay call fees to hear you heavy breath, stutter and hang up after an incoherent message is annoying.
SMS: I have one word for you: TWITTER
Data: I have resisted all the inherent double entendr’es in all those tweets about the size of your data package, really I have. Seriously though, make browsing the mobile web fast, fast , fast! Optimized browsing should find the best way for you to get the most bang for your buck for all those minutes you are connected. Microsoft Windows Mobile when I close my browser/ email / mobile application ask if I want to close my connection.
CTRL-ALT-DEL: if I have to go to the Task Manager or whatever the other phones call it to close one more application today… I believe User Experience is a way of retaining your customer base not an act of psychological warfare. Opera Mobile Browser is closed when you exit, if they can do it then why can’t all the other applications?
Calendar / Contacts etc. the cloud is here to stay so why not default store / sync this information on the cloud. Windows Live, Skydrive, Live Mesh etcetera work and work nicely so why not come preinstalled on my Windows phone? Apropos Live Mesh for once can’t Microsoft introduce a new mobile service and get the Israeli carriers to support it? Yes I’m disappointed.
Don’t get me wrong, while the focus of this is on Windows Mobile it’s because that’s my phone but after speaking to users of other platforms / OS I’m not convinced that they have gotten these features right anymore than Microsoft. What’s more even with these shortcomings I like the Windows Mobile experience by and large.
The truth is that the flaws in the mobile UX seem rooted in the misconception that shrinking a Desktop computer into a device with a one to two inch screen is a simple solution to providing features like Locational services and Maps.
As an experienced QA professional who has done some work on cellular platforms, usability and UX I believe that users will ultimately purchase the phone that provides them the ease of use and non-frustrating UX. Time will tell.