SUPA Event

The Scottish Usability Professionals’ Association hosts regular seminar-style events with usability professionals giving presentations on projects they’re involved with. The December 2009 session focussed on mobile web usability and IPhone application development.

The keys to making the mobile web a positive experience for users is keeping your mobile web site simple, intuitive and easy to use. Since mobile devices come in many shapes, sizes and standards with a wide variety of display capabilities and data connections to the Internet, it is suggested that the default mobile web site caters to the lowest-common denominator while providing an option to access the full site for users using high specification browsers that can handle rich internet media. A pleasant side effect of designing a mobile web site using the aforementioned values is that it will generally be accessible too.

While the Edinburgh’s Festival Apple IPhone application developed by Loc8 Solutions was specifically cited, IPhone application development was discussed in general.

Although 43% of mobile web internet traffic comes from IPhones, they only make up 2.5% of total mobile handsets in use today. it was speculated that the disproportionate statistics are because of the IPhone’s rich internet media capable Safari browser and the unlimited data tariffs that come with contracts.

The process of developing an IPhone application can be very involved. First, the application needs to be developed; making sure Apple IPhone application development guide-lines are followed. Second, it needs to pass Apple’s rigorous testing criteria . Third, it becomes one of the hundreds of thousands of applications that resides on the virtual shelves waiting to be purchased and downloaded.

The application itself can take one of two forms. A stand-alone application can function independently of an Internet connection and can be launched anytime. A hybrid application is basically a web site framed within an application and it requires an Internet connection. While hybrid applications are generally quicker to develop, it really comes down to requirements of the application in terms of what form it takes.

If Apple IPhone standards and recommendations are followed, an IPhone application can be accessible by way of the Voice-Over screen reader built into the Apple IPhone operating-system.

For more information on the Scottish Usability Professionals’ Association, please visit: www.scottishupa.org.uk

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