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Can you afford to ignore the mobile market any longer? / EasyInsites

We all have them, mobile phones, and some of us wouldn’t know what we would do without them which is testament to their involvement in our daily lives.It’s common place to see people on their mobile phones, or increasingly their tablets, when commuting and going about their daily lives, but are we taking it for granted when it comes to research?  EasyInsites

You’ve probably heard the phrase that ‘there’s an app for that’, and there usually is. We rely on these apps to organise our lives, give us choices about our environment and help us to explore things we wouldn’t normally see and mobile owners are very familiar with turning to their mobile devices to find the answers instead of firing up a desktop computer. It’s convenient.

In 2011 there were 5.6 billion mobiles for 6.9 billion inhabitants on this planet (Source: ITU) which is nearly one per person. When you start looking at the figures for just Europe then you can see that there are 1.2 handsets for each person (Source: Asia Pacific Mobile Observatory 2011).

With so many people turning to mobile devices shouldn’t your research be tailored specifically for this audience?

W3Schools, a well-respected site in the world of web development, lists that of all browsing done globally in January this year nearly 1.3% was done on a mobile device. These figures don’t exactly lend themselves to making a decision on catering for mobile users but here at EasyInsites we have seen something slightly different within the research community.

We are seeing 10-15% of our online respondents using mobile devices which is why it’s my belief that those panellists that do respond to online surveys are generally a little more tech savvy. They are more comfortable with the format. Thankfully EasyInsites accommodates this increasing market and we are constantly revisiting our designs for usability and functionality on any type of device.

It’s one thing to create a visually enticing design but an entirely different one to cater for the experience across all platforms. What might work as a drop-down on one platform, will have to be a checkbox on another and it can make or break the user experience if you don’t get it right.

Mobile compatible theme

It will never be enough to simply create a mobile compatible theme and expect the user to ‘get on with it’. Simply creating a theme that works on a mobile platform that looks visually appealing isn’t enough. We have to try and make the user interface as uncomplicated and accessible as possible so that you aren’t being biased in a survey and this will probably require changing the question type being used to make it more accessible. What’s the point in running a mobile compatible survey if half the participants have to scroll excessively to see more options or cannot view them all due to display constraints? Surely that will affect the outcome, as mobile respondents may give up, or get fed up and provide lower quality data.

A lot more thought goes in to the development cycle which doesn’t always get the credit it deserves. To anyone developing for the mobile environment whether it is a survey, website, app or otherwise, I applaud those of you taking the time to consider the user and making their experience better.

I do feel that over time we are going to replace the necessity for the desktop computer with a tablet of some description, if nothing else because it saves space. According to one report, 2011 saw a 260% rise in units sold compared to the previous year bringing the 2011 total to 66 million tablets. It’s also worth noting that whilst there is a particular fruit named brand leading the way they aren’t the only brand available. The varying operating systems and their ability to be standards compliant or not is another aspect that has to be looked at and is similar in special considerations that are made when cross-browser and cross-platform testing for traditional desktop computers and browsers.

When we develop online surveys for desktop and laptop users we have to consider the various differences with all the browsers from Microsoft, Mozilla and Google and more along with the huge differences in each version they release. The same consideration applies for the operating systems on each mobile device, and just because they come from the same manufacturer doesn’t mean that their operating system’s built-in browser will behave in the same manner. There can be a world of difference.

In an ideal world you would simply create one survey, website or app and launch it to the masses with a single button, but sadly that isn’t possible just yet. Until that day comes, developers and designers of online and mobile platforms will continue to work hard in delivering high quality output that everyone can see regardless of how they get there.

You don’t have to worry about that, at EasyInsites we’re on it!

Posted by: Chris Twin EasyInsites

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