Mobile users are often seeking to quickly complete a simple task, and can’t take advantage of the full range of functionality provided by a traditional Web application.
The user interfaces for mobile web applications may borrow from traditional web applications, but must often be redesigned to highlight the most commonly used functions and to make most effective use of the screen and the mobile user interface paradigm, including both the user input and the associated motion and location information.
Using a mobile device is different from working with a desktop or laptop computer. Gestures, sensors, and location data play a dominant role in many mobile applications.
The smaller display and different styles of user interaction also have a major impact on interaction design for mobile applications, which in turn has a strong influence on application development.
The mobile user interface paradigm is based around widgets, touch, physical motion, and keyboards (physical and virtual)
Other context dependencies may also play a role in the user experience, including such aspects as physical location, proximity to other mobile devices, and the activation of various device features.
Mobile platforms include their own UI libraries and guidelines, so native applications for a device will share a common “look and feel.” It’s in the interest of the application developer to adhere to platform standards, especially on touch-screen devices, where users expect to use the platform’s standard set of gestures, which differs for each platform.
With the challenge of making the best possible use of limited screen space, user interface design takes on greater importance than ever. These observations raise some evaluation issues, including:
• How does one determine which functions should be present in a mobile version of a traditional application?
• Are there techniques that can assure the maximum reuse of code among different versions?
• What is the comparable effort to build a native mobile application (or a set of them for different platforms) compared to a mobile web application?
• Is there a measurable difference in user satisfaction or productivity with either of these?
• Is there a need for specialized scenario development processes and tools for mobile applications?
• Does the mobile UI require a different contextual design process to support a different set of use cases?
• How does a software designer integrate the various forms of input and sensor data in application design?