UX Lx 2013: Mobile to the Future

UX Lx 2013: Mobile to the Future

In his presentation at UX Lx 2013, Luke Wroblewski introduced mobile as the 7th form of mass media and established some guidelines for designing login and checkout pages.

This was probably the most intensive talk of the day, with Luke Wroblewski incessantly “feeding” the crowd with more and more history, statistics, best practices, stories and examples of the mobile world. Four things that everyone should have gotten away from this talk: mobile is not a desktop PC; mobile must never be a dumbed-down, limited experience; on mobile, people actually try to do the things they normally do on a desktop PC; and that we can start improving the experience of mobile today, using techniques that are already available to everyone. Luke Wroblewski delivered a fantastic, entertaining and very well composed presentation, both orally and visually. Definitely the highlight of the day, a talk that we at DRI will come back to.

You can follow my notes alongside the slides from his talk, available here.

The 7th Form of Mass Media

  • The first form of mass media to “hit our planet” was print (books, pamphlets, newspapers, magazines, etc.), around the late 15th century.
  • Until 1890, when recordings (records, tapes, cartridges, CDs, DVDs) came along. We then had cinema (1900), radio (1910), television (1950) and internet (1990).
  • Tomi Ahonen, who used to work at Nokia, proposed that mobile is the 7th form of mass media. If we start to think of mobile as the newest and most powerful form of mass media ever, it really changes the way we approach it.
  • In the world, 371K babies are born per day. However, there is bad news: worldwide, 378K iPhones are sold per day and 1.3M Android devices are activated per day.
  • But there is more: 562K iOS devices, 200K Nokia smartphones and 143K Blackberry devices are sold worldwide, each day.
  • Roughly 2M mobile devices entering the planet each day, compared to 371K children.
  • And it is not just about quantity, it is also the speed at which each new form of mass media is being adopted by culture: telephone took 39 years to get to mass market adoption (40% of US population); electricity and computer took about 15 years; radio, mobile phones and internet roughly 5 years; and the fastest yet was the smartphone (3 years).
  • It is also how they are being used. Behaviors are changing: Apple and Android are taking a very large cut for the past few years on the share of personal computing. People are doing things on their smartphones that they used to do on PCs.
  • More statistics: 6B mobile connections today, 10B connections in 2016, 26x worldwide traffic growth.
  • Also, as the new form of mass media, mobile can do everything the other six could do before it. It has swallowed print, recordings, cinema, radio, television and internet. All of these have been sucked up into your pocket.
  • It can do new things as well:
    • Always with us, in our pocket;
    • Always on;
    • Built-in payment mechanism;
    • At a point of inspiration;
    • Accurate audience;
    • Captures social context;
    • Augmented reality;
    • Digital interface to reality.
  • What we end up doing with each new mass media is copying what we were doing before, what was successful. Everything that we used to do for print has been pushed onto the web (page/canvas, grid layouts, typography, graphical ads, etc.). The fact is that web is not print. And the same rule holds: mobile is not a desktop PC.
  • “…copy, extend, and finally, discovery of a new form. It takes a while to shed old paradigms.” in Mobile Apps Must Die, by Scott Jenson. It is when we discover what this new form of mass media can do that things start to get exciting.
  • Example: PayPal started as a mobile payments company (15-19 years ago) but the devices and the ecosystem was not ready. They kept going and investing in mobile until, in 2009: $141M in mobile payments. And it continued: $750M in 2010, $4B in 2011, $14B in 2012.
  • Other examples: Fab, 2x more likely to buy on mobile; Financial Times, 2.5x more likely to subscribe; Flipboard, 3x engagement on mobile; Twitter, 60% of users are on mobile; Pandora, 70% of usage on mobile; StumbleUpon, 800% mobile growth.
  • The general paradigm about mobile is that we have to do less, that people will do less. And while it is a great lens to helps us concentrate on the things that matter, it is also an opportunity to help people do more on mobile.


How to think for mobile: login pages

  • Statistics on login pages: each person authenticates 15 times per day; 82% have forgotten a site password; at Yahoo, 5–10% of sessions involve a request password; #1 request to intranet help desks.
  • Login is currently a broken system.
  • Lesson #1: As Steven Hoober wrote: “Mobile must never be a dumbed-down, limited experience.” People will still try to do the things they normally do, even on a smaller screen. Leaving important, critical features out (login help or buying without an account), is not the way to deal with this new devices.
  • Lesson #2: There are many things we can do to improve the user experience of login forms:
    • Do not remove critical features for helping people sign in.
    • Use input types and attributes. Example: for email fields, use the email type and turn autocapitalize and autocomplete off.
    • Make password visible by default and use smart defaults. “Masking passwords doesn't even increase security, but it does cost you business due to login failures.” — Jakob Nielsen. And it is worse on mobile, as it is a magnifying lens for your usability problems.
    • For Facebook, more than half of their users are on mobile, and so they have cleverly figured this out: if on the first go, you make a mistake typing in your password, on the second time they will tell you that the password field is now plain text, so that you can see it clearly. If you prefer, they are kind enough to send you a message or email with a link that logs you in directly (they call it Mobile Easy Login).
    • Use input masks, if needed. Example: On MobileMe (now iCloud), since everyone had to have a “@me.com” email address, there was a “@me.com” input mask for the user email address in the login page.
    • Avoid errors. Example: Quora offers you the option to create an account if there is no account with the email address you have tried to login with.
    • If possible, save login information. Example: Quora has a “Let me login without a password on this browser” checkbox that is checked by default. When you return, just tap on your picture and you are in.
    • Consider single sign-on, especially using Facebook. They have 910M active users, 50% log in daily and 500M use this kind of authentication on third-party platforms. But make it easy for the users to find out how they signed up with you (email, TwitterFacebook). Example: Bagcheck helps you search and auto complete your name (or email address), and then offers the possible authentication options for that specific account.
    • Be flexible in what you accept: email, full name or username.
    • There is no reason all these techniques cannot apply to the desktop, laptop, tablet and what comes after.
  • The future of login:
  • Our focus on layout keeps us from seizing big opportunities on mobile.


How to think for mobile: checkout pages

  • We have been doing e-commerce for over twenty years, and we are still doing it wrong.
  • One statistic: in 2011 the shopping cart abandonment rate was 75%, in 2010 it was 71%. We are actually getting worse at something that is crucial.
  • Reduce effort (while also maintaining critical features).
  • Remove unnecessary questions or optional fields.
  • Display the appropriate type of keyboard for each field. Example: input type=”tel” to display a numeric keyboard for phone numbers.
  • Reduce number of controls or hide irrelevant controls. Example: Instead of making people check a box to agree to your terms and conditions, state that by selecting “Continue”, they agree to the terms of sale.
  • 38% of US consumers have used smartphones to buy content or services.
  • 70% of Internet users have purchased content or services online
  • More statistics, now from eBay’s mobile purchases: $4B 2011 mobile GMV, 3 purchases on mobile per sec, 2M listings added on mobile per week.
  • The future of checkout:
    • Contact Autofill.
    • Location Detection. Example: the Apple Store App’s personal pickup feature enables Apple employees to know your location in the store, so that they can greet you and handover the product that you bought.
    • Virtual Shopping. Example: Tesco Korea made shopping for groceries in the subway possible through QR code scanning.
    • Self Checkout. Example: Apple Store App has another feature called EasyPay that lets you scan product barcodes and buy them directly from your iOS device with your Apple ID.


Wrapping up:

  • Mobile is a massive new medium — and opportunity.
  • Forces us to adapt and optimize our solutions — that is good for all devices;
  • Moves us towards the future — even on the Web!

Luke Wroblewski kept a surprise in his pocket for the duration of the talk, which he then unveiled in the end by taking out his Google Glasses and snapping a photo of the audience. What a great way to finish the conference day at UX Lx 2013.

If mobile is what you are looking for, you can follow Luke Wroblewski on Twitter, he is always sharing great insights and statistics on this matter.

Stay tuned to this series, and please share your thoughts about this talk on the comments section below. How is your company dealing with mobile? What other things can we do to improve our users experience on mobile?