Usability and User experience in the mobile community

In the mobile industry there has recently been much discussion around the importance of enhancing usability. For us this is not enough, we advocate that we also need to consider the user experience. Users’ expectations are growing at the same speed as phones with advanced technology are growing into the high-volume market. User experience emphasizes the overall experience of possessing and using a mobile, where usability is one part of this experience. Smart mobile phones on the market must give users a satisfying experience. If they don’t they will not retain their place on the market in the long run. This means that smart mobile phones must deliver a higher degree of usability than has often been the case.

Good usability and user experience does not come automatically; it requires sensitiveness, awareness, creativity and extra efforts. Unfortunately, in software development practice, user experience and other non-functional requirements too often tend to be dealt with as ad-hoc activities. For us it is paramount that smart phones be developed and tested to ensure good usability and user experience. This can be expressed with help of the ISO terminology; to complete tasks efficiently and effectively and also to satisfy user expectations before mobiles are introduced to the market. This is part of the vocabulary that is used in the UTUM test package, which is developed to address this challenge.

In relation to Symbian Smartphone Show in London the 17-18 October 2006 our cooperative industrial partner UIQ Technology AB has released an industrial report addressing our shared challenge of Developing a world leading usability test package, called UTUM. Please, read it! And send the industrial authors as well as us the academic cooperative partner your comments.

Kari Rönkkö and Jeff Winter U-ODD


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