Blog Trends

The Mobile Internet Point of Inflection

January 2014 marked an important milestone in America’s transition to ubiquitous computing. According to comScore, Americans spent more time accessing the internet from mobile apps in the month of January than they did from desktop computers.

We’ve always been aware of increased time and usage of smartphones, but this evidence indicates that people’s behaviors have shifted for the foreseeable future. With the increasing use of smartphones that are always connected, we’re seeing an emergence of a new set of behaviors that designers, marketers, and technologists need to pay attention to.

Habits of the ubiquitous computing user

The popularity of the smartphone is witnessed everywhere. According to a recent report from Millward Brown, its usage has unseated the once-mighty TV for average length of viewing time at 151 minutes per day compared to TV’s 147-minute average in the United States. It’s now common to have both screens active at the same time. There is evidence that TV stimulates a viewer to perform a related action on a smartphone. As interest in TV programming drops off, the smartphone replaces boredom with readily available entertainment: the ability to check in on social networks.

Timely design, not timeless

How should we go about creating interactive experiences for a ubiquitous computing audience that no longer has to commit information to memory? It’s often said that our aim as designers is to create something timeless. I believe that the goal of design now is to create an experience that is timely. By focusing on delivering relevant information at the right time, we can better support the ubiquitous computer user’s needs. Here are a few suggestions:

- Guide your customer through an experience by providing the correct contextual information. Your customer expects the experience to be intuitive and does not have the time or interest to read a user manual.
- Keep your customer informed by displaying the current status of a product's or service's performance; observing normal operations will set your customer at ease.
- Trigger an alert when additional attention is needed; your customer won’t remember to check otherwise.
- Prepopulate your customer’s saved information whenever possible; data entry is error prone and time consuming.
- Ask your customer to authenticate only when it’s absolutely required to complete a task; entering passwords is a barrier to entry.

The smartphone is the first place your customer consults for answers. By employing these principles into the experience, it becomes the golden thread that successfully connects your customer to your offering.

Watch this video to see how to make your brand experience mobile-friendly.