Most web folks regard Jakob Nielsen as the guru of website usability and human-computer interaction.

As reported by Melinda Krueger on ClickZ Marketing News, here’s the first item I’ve seen regarding his insights on the usability of mobile sites. I wish it were more thorough, but it’s a start.

Some of Nielsen’s thoughts …

  • Mobile user has low commitment to any mobile content, so poor usability is even more of a killer than with computers.
  • Users download plenty of apps they soon ignore — casualties of poor usability.
  • Apps have the advantage over mobile sites because they’re faster and incorporate features like location, which improve the user experience.
  • Don’t require the user to remember things from screen to screen — user won’t use mobile to research or compare large amounts of info.
  • Copy must not just be short … it must be ultra-short.

Working against your content is the user’s lack of both commitment and focus — he or she simply won’t take the time and effort to figure out something tricky on mobile. It either works quickly and easily, or the user moves on … either to another app or back to the ‘real’ (i.e. off-mobile) world.

According to Nielsen, big mistakes on mobile include making it too difficult to touch and manipulate (e.g., use large touch targets), and trying to do too much (e.g., don’t overload the first screen, use progressive disclosure to build the experience).

If you want to see Nielsen ‘in action’, read his critique of the Wall St Journal mobile app.

And if you see more from Nielsen on mobile usability, let us know!

Tom

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