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3 Crushing Contradictions on Mobile: Making A Bad Mobile User Experience Better
Wednesday, November 21st, 2012 | Comments | Latest Posts

Blocking Pop-ups Image from AppleAh, mobile. It’s the channel of the future, the always-on connectivity that we crave–and loathe at the same time. It’s making designers and developers–and, perhaps most notably, executives–experienced in the art of the web rethink everything they thought they knew about how to interact with people online. In short, it’s truly transformative.

But it hasn’t transformed everything. Yet. There are still lots of residual desktop features and functions, or just ways of thinking, that plague the mobile user experience, and (much like Facebook’s job board fail) deserve to be called out as unacceptable. Here are 3 that have bugged us recently:

1. Pop-up ads on mobile

Pop-up ads in general are annoying, but they’re even more so on a small screen where they’re impossible to close. And not only is this frustrating to users, but it’s a big waste of an advertiser’s money. It reveals a publisher’s lack of preparation on two fronts: creating an appropriate mobile user experience, and targeting ads to the appropriate channel. If you’re an advertiser, check out your channels for mobile friendly handling of your ads. You may be sorely disappointed! And if you’re a publisher, ensure that it’s easy to opt out of any ad experience, on mobile or otherwise.

2. Experiences that aren’t localized–or are too localized

One of the huge advantages of mobile is location detection. So if you’re always asking users on a mobile device to fill in their current location, you’re probably wasting their time. However, it’s also possible that users might be searching for a point of interest or some news about another location, so don’t make it too hard to override any location detection features. If I’m in San Francisco but want to go to a movie in Berkeley tonight, please don’t make it impossible for me to look at your Berkeley listings–or you just might lose a customer. Depending on your type of business, a good move might be to default to the current location, but ensure it’s easy for the user to change that parameter.

3. Subpar social experiences

Digiday did a great job of calling out inane social media posts recently. We tweeted this morning about perhaps the ultimate oxymoron in online advertising: a promoted tweet about “earned media” (hint: if you have to pay to promote it, it’s not “earned”!). As mobile and social grow more and more important to business operations, execution in both areas can get spotty. It’s hard to consistently come up with quality content that engages users (beyond a mere “Like”) on social media, and it’s even harder to ensure that such content is mobile friendly. That’s why these endeavors deserve your attention, and can’t just be relegated only to interns or part-time workers as an afterthought. Everyone needs to be on board to create success. Your fans and followers want to trust you, and they can’t do that if you’re providing a good mobile user experience in terms of just “showing up” on mobile, but a poor one in terms of quality.

What are some poor experiences on mobile that really irk you?

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