Smartphone Scrolling and User Experience

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Smartphone scrolling: How much is too much for User Experience?

Here at UX24/7, we’re rather fond of Responsive Web Design, and even fonder of sharing our love of it with you. As a solution to a specific problem – how web designers and developers should adapt to a world dominated by an array of different screen sizes – it’s particularly effective. This, however,  doesn’t mean it comes without the occasional caveat.

As we’ve said before, it’s a philosophy still in its infancy, and as such can’t be expected to be an overnight cure for all ills.

Turning a molehill into a mountain

For instance, we recently usability tested a client’s responsive website for usability, and found that the manner in which it was designed resulted in an excessive amount of scrolling on the smartphone version.

Responsive Web Design automatically resizes and rearranges layout to fit the smaller screen. In this case it was a 4 column desktop website, which consolidated to a single column when rendered on a smartphone. This created a considerable distance from the top of the page to the bottom, hence the inordinate amount of scrolling.

Extra work = Poor User Experience

Was this good for user experience? Certainly not. A desktop customer could easily find what it was they were after on the larger screen, even if it appeared in the forth column. The smartphone user, in contrast, had a mammoth journey ahead to locate the same information.

Think mobile

The problem is that many organisations are content to be mobile, without actually thinking mobile. They see their website working on the smartphone screen, and believe it’s enough, without considering that the mobile user’s experience is different to that of the PC user. The immediacy, and the on-the-go nature of mobile, requires access to information with the minimum amount of fuss. Being forced to scroll through reams and reams of unnecessary content, does not a happy user make.

If you are thinking mobile, you will recognise this, and adapt accordingly. In this case, the question that should’ve been asked was whether those four columns of content that made up the homepage were needed for the smartphone experience. The answer here, and in many similar instances where responsive designs have left the mobile user with numb fingers because of too much scrolling, is a big fat no!

Content for the sake of it

A lot of the times, the content a user has to wade through is surplus to the desktop experience – with organisations filling their websites with every possible feature and scrap of info they can lay their hands on. This adds nothing to the user experience, except the word ‘bad’.

Organisations, and those they employ to design their websites, need to get a hold on what’s important to their users, and develop content strategies to suit. They also need to start recognising that touch screen interaction is a very different beast to the more traditional one of mouse input.

Ensure a great user experience for your mobile customers. For usability testing and expert usability reviews, contact UX24/7 today !

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