Experience Enhancement

Venkatesh, Ramesh, and Massey (2003) suggest that content is still "king" in both Web and WAP environments, but relevance, structure, and personalization are critical for better use experience. They further indicated that usability testers and system designers should pay special attention to the reasons (i.e., time pressure, location, and convenience) why mobile devices are used. Lack of screen space can be overcome in part with sound feedbacks to reflect the current state of user interaction. Because mobile users are frequently involved in multi-tasking, some researchers suggest the use of audio feedback (Brewster, Leplatre & Crease, 1998). This approach may have an additional benefit in that it can help reduce display clutter, allowing for the presentation of more information (Walker & Brewster, 1999). Brewster et al. (1998) recommend the adoption of language-independent non-speech tones (e.g., a beeping sound). Brewster (2002) found that the button size in PDA systems can be reduced from 16 x 16 pixels to 8 x 8 pixels without loss of user performance, if they are sonically-enhanced buttons. However, the use of sound cannot offset the degradation of usability if the button size is further reduced to 4x4 pixels.

As the ISO usability standard suggests, context of use is an integral part that should be taken into account when conducting usability studies. However, analysis ofuse contexts for the mobile environment is significantly more complex than that of nonmobile environments. Gorlenko and Merrick (2003) outlined the three challenges that face designers of mobile applications and the usability testers.

• The challenge of identifying all possible usages ofthe mobile products. The rationale is that the more prevalent and convenient the mobile devices are in a particular setting, the more likely the users will be to try to use the devices in a different setting as well.

• The challenge of the changing nature of task environments. The environment where a task is performed may change over the course of the task. Other factors that change very likely may affect the user's task. For example, the weather condition, the network connection, the bandwidth availability, and the number and types of applications running on a multi-tasking system may all cause variations of usability results.

• The challenge of human multi-tasking nature in mobile interactions. An integral assumption of mobile devices is that the user interacts with the device while simultaneously undertaking other tasks. Distractions are the nature of use, rather than an exception. Usability testing also should carefully consider the variety of parallel activities.

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