The Future of UI – How Mobile Design is Shaping The Web

Web design is not an interactive brochure anymore. Smart mobile devices have forever changed the way we think and interact with websites. Now you have to consider an array of things you didn’t have to worry about before, such as HiDPI graphics, UI/UX patterns, touch target sizes, gestures, and managing expectations. All the while not losing track of what’s important: Content.

We’re going to discuss the influence of mobile on design, trends, and implementation methods, as well as how touch is changing our lives. As designers and developers, we can benefit from learning about how mobile is changing the way we interact with websites, and what that means for the future of UI.


Mary Meeker: Internet Trends 2011


KPCB Internet Trends (2011)

This fact-packed presentation compiled by KPCB partner Mary Meeker explores and examines the significant trends shaping the Internet today. Backed by hard data and decades of technology analysis, Mary posits that the mobile revolution is still in its infancy and poised for tremendous growth. Her presentation also zeroes in on the newest breakout trends driving e-commerce, including the rejuvenating effects of local commerce, the global race to adopt mobile devices and apps, and the latest innovations in online payments. The evolving social space comes under Mary’s scrutiny as well. She observes that social networking is proving to be not just a powerful engagement model, but also a pervasive new wave of opportunity that spans the online experience. View the full presentation for a look at the digital trends that surround us in today’s increasingly mobile, social world.

Eye opening and thought provoking.


Mobile Devices Account for 7 percent of Web Traffic

The prediction that Internet traffic originating from mobile devices will eventually exceed that of desktop computers connected to the Internet is on its way to a reality. Mobile devices, which includes smartphones and tablets, now account for 7 percent of worldwide traffic on the Web, according to a report issued Tuesday by comScore, which monitors online trends.

Most startling among the mobile statistics is the disproportionate usage rate of Apple iPad owners. The report found that the iPad accounts for 97 percent of all tablet traffic in the United States. Analysts at IDC recently estimated Apple has sold 75 percent of all tablets. Apple said in July that it had sold close to 29 million iPads since the device went on sale in April 2010.
Although Google’s Android operating system software has pulled ahead in the smartphone race, and more Android devices are in use than Apple devices, Apple is still the strong leader in mobile traffic usage. ComScore said iOS devices, which include the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, account for 43 percent of all connected mobile devices online.

Read the article here.
Those with phones that use Android would seem to use their phones far less if you consider web usage a primary activity.
Via textually.


The Web brings people together and keeps us sociable

The Web brings people together and keep us sociable
The commonly held belief that the internet is turning an entire generation into solitary web-junkies is a myth, according to new research. In a paper to be presented to a gathering of Nobel prize winners later this month, three influential economists claim their work demonstrates the internet is actually making us more socially active.

Stefan Bauernschuster, Oliver Falck and Ludger Woessmann of the Ifo Institute in Munich reject the claim that the internet isolates people socially and erodes the traditional foundations of society. “There are no indications whatsoever that the internet makes people lonely,” Bauernschuster said. He explained that their study revealed that a broadband connection at home positively influences the social activities of adults as well as children.
The three economists found that once adults had access to broadband, their attendance at theatres, cinemas, bars or restaurants actually increased. They also found evidence that far from curtailing children’s extracurricular experiences, a broadband internet subscription at home increased the number of children’s out-of-school social activities, such as sports, ballet, music, painting lessons, or joining a youth club.
“With the help of the internet it is much easier to maintain contact with other people and to make plans to meet in the real world,” the economists write.
“In addition, the internet conveys diverse information on leisure time and cultural offerings as well as on (local) politics and voluntary commitment. Moreover, the internet facilitates reserving and buying tickets for events.”

Logging on to computers helps us get out more, insist economists
The paper


Apple Owns Mobile Browsing

Mobile browsing has more than doubled in the last year and now accounts for over 6 percent of all online activity, a Web statistics company said last week.
And Apple’s Safari — the default browser on the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch — rules the usage share roost, representing 53 percent of the mobile browsing market.
Two trends are clear, said Vince Vizzaccaro, a vice president with metrics firm Net Applications, which released new figures. “Phones and tablets are stealing [browsing] share from desktops at an accelerated pace,” said Vizzaccaro.

Net Applications calculates browser usage share with data obtained from more than 160 million unique visitors who browse 40,000 Web sites that the company monitors for clients.
From PC World.


Tinfoil hat: Smartphones can do everything – except safeguard the web

The proliferation of powerful mobile phones could see control of the internet pass into the hands of corporations. John Naughton writes for the Observer:

The Pew report found that 35% of American adults now own a “smartphone”, that is to say a mobile phone with a significantly more powerful processor and much better internet connectivity than an old-style handset which could do voice and text and not much else. Smartphones (think iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Mobile) usually also function as portable media players and cameras and have GPS navigation, Wi-Fi and mobile broadband access built in. Smartphone penetration seems to be following a similar pattern in the UK. A few months ago, a survey conducted by Olswang, a law firm specialising in the technology and media sectors, found that 22% of UK consumers already have a smartphone, with this percentage rising to 31% among 24- to 35-year-olds.
What does this mean? Essentially, that we are on the slippery slope towards a much more controlled, less open, internet. If these trends continue, then it won’t be all that long before a significant proportion of the world’s internet users will access the network, not via freely programmable PCs connected via landline networks, but through tethered, non-programmable information appliances (smartphones) hooked up to tightly controlled and regulated mobile networks. And if that happens then the world will have kissed goodbye to the internet’s revolutionary potential.

How many people ‘fully program their PC’s’? – I’m guessing not many. Consumers don’t care about open source they care about devices that work.
I don’t particularly agree that we need open devices to foster an open web, Apples devices do nothing to hinder a great web experience (flash fans note the words “great experience”) but I haven’t given much thought to the network control aspect. Perhaps this is due to the fact that where I live I see little difference between the two – both are ubiquitous, cheap and offer unlimited usage. Maybe this is a British and American concern.
Smartphones can do everything – except safeguard the web


Majority of Chinese Children Accessing the Internet

A survey of Chinese school children jointly conducted by the Chinese Young Pioneers Business Development Center and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences has found that a majority (60%) have accessed the internet at least once before they were ten years old.

According to the survey, about 47 percent of the minors surveyed owned a mobile phone and 40 percent used it to go online. The results show that most of the children use cell phones to chat, read blogs, play games and search for information on the Internet.
The survey, which lasted more than half a year, was conducted mainly among students aged between 10 and 18 years in 106 middle and elementary schools across the country. Some parents and teachers also participated in the survey.

More at Cellular News


Pope: the web makes social relations more superficial

While optimistic about the opportunities that the Internet provides, the pope encourages Catholics to consider how the web is transforming culture and daily life. Benedict XVI warned that because more and more people are communicating through computers or mobile phones, true dialogue is being decreased as well as a responsibility for what said.

The new languages that are developed in digital communication result in, among other things, a more intuitive and emotional mentality, oriented toward a different logical organization of thought and relationship to reality, which often gives priority to the image and hyperlinks.
The risks are obvious to all: the loss of intimacy, superficiality in relationships, resorting to the emotional and a general attitude that prevails over the desire for truth. – Benedicto XVI

Video. Via Rome Reports


Rentalship is the new ownership

for rent
David Rowan writes that when a well designed online networks and ubiquitous internet connections bring people together to trade, share, collaborate and swap expertise with incredibly generous goodwill.

Now that collaborative spirit is spreading to all sorts of other industries as ubiquitous internet connections bring us together in creative new ways. The peer-to-peer model has lately moved from auction houses and online classifieds to car-sharing, jewellery lending, even online banking — and each time it’s cutting out a traditional incumbent. In an era when environmental concerns are making conspicuous consumption harder to justify, start-ups are targeting customers keener to pay for access to goods and services rather than actual physical ownership – and new web-based networks are letting all of us be both lenders and borrowers.
… this is nothing less than a social revolution. “We are relearning how to create value out of shared and open resources in ways that balance personal self-interest with the good of the larger community,” she says. “For the first time in history, the age of networks and mobile devices has created the efficiency and social glue to create innovative solutions, enabling the sharing and exchange of assets from cars, to bikes, to skills to spare space.” And, naturally, Botsman is encouraging buyers of her book to swap, barter or pass it on so it finds new readers.

Perhaps the exception is that of any community that incites debate, like most American political blogs, where dogma is far more prevalent than goodwill.
Rentalship is the new ownership in the networked age


The Web Shatters Focus, Rewires Brains

The Web Shatters Focus, Rewires Brains
Last year was the year of “your brain on the internets” with mainstream media giving a great deal of attention to the supposed cognitive effects of both using mobile devices and what we use them for. I linked to many of them but this one I missed.
This article is an adaption of The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains
and takes a different approach by focusing on the web and google in general, and more specifically the hyperlink. People always used to comment that a conversation with me was like talking in hypertext – we would never know where the conversation would go once we got started. Not that I am a shallow thinker (I don’t know, maybe I am) like one of the thesis’ presented in the article but that my train of thought tends to be unpredictable. Perhaps influenced by the amount and kind of work I was doing for years.
From the article:
The Internet is an interruption system. It seizes our attention only to scramble it. There’s the problem of hypertext and the many different kinds of media coming at us simultaneously.

By keeping lots of brain cells buzzing, Google seemed to be making people smarter. But as Small was careful to point out, more brain activity is not necessarily better brain activity. The real revelation was how quickly and extensively Internet use reroutes people’s neural pathways. “The current explosion of digital technology not only is changing the way we live and communicate,” Small concluded, “but is rapidly and profoundly altering our brains.”
What kind of brain is the Web giving us? That question will no doubt be the subject of a great deal of research in the years ahead. Already, though, there is much we know or can surmise–and the news is quite disturbing. Dozens of studies by psychologists, neurobiologists, and educators point to the same conclusion: When we go online, we enter an environment that promotes cursory reading, hurried and distracted thinking, and superficial learning. Even as the Internet grants us easy access to vast amounts of information, it is turning us into shallower thinkers, literally changing the structure of our brain.
On the Net, we face many information faucets, all going full blast. Our little thimble overflows as we rush from tap to tap. We transfer only a small jumble of drops from different faucets, not a continuous, coherent stream.
Psychologists refer to the information flowing into our working memory as our cognitive load. When the load exceeds our mind’s ability to process and store it, we’re unable to retain the information or to draw connections with other memories. We can’t translate the new material into conceptual knowledge. Our ability to learn suffers, and our understanding remains weak. That’s why the extensive brain activity that Small discovered in Web searchers may be more a cause for concern than for celebration. It points to cognitive overload.
There’s nothing wrong with absorbing information quickly and in bits and pieces. We’ve always skimmed newspapers more than we’ve read them, and we routinely run our eyes over books and magazines to get the gist of a piece of writing and decide whether it warrants more thorough reading. The ability to scan and browse is as important as the ability to read deeply and think attentively. The problem is that skimming is becoming our dominant mode of thought. Once a means to an end, a way to identify information for further study, it’s becoming an end in itself–our preferred method of both learning and analysis. Dazzled by the Net’s treasures, we are blind to the damage we may be doing to our intellectual lives and even our culture.

Author Nicholas Carr: The Web Shatters Focus, Rewires Brains


China’s youth heaviest mobile internet users

“Usage patterns vary greatly among youth throughout the world, demonstrating how culture, economy and age can all play a large part in mobile behavior. These factors affect device selection, payment and usage,” said market researcher Nielsen in a new study on youth and cellphone usage published on January 11.
According to the study, Chinese youth are the heaviest mobile internet users while youth in the US can’t stop sending emails.
73 percent of Chinese mobile users aged 15-24 said they used mobile internet in the last 30 days compared to only 48 percent of US youth and 46 percent of youth in the UK.

It was my understanding that youth in the US have abandoned email for shorter more instant forms of communication, or at least that was the prevailing wisdom from other studies I have read. From my observations Facebook and messaging systems seem more popular.
Read full article.


I can’t find my phone (or my keys)

I can't find my phone
Nicely executed. When you are at your other web enabled device and can’t find your phone … perhaps I should attach my keys to my mobile. Now that would be useful.

Do you know those moments, when you can’t find your phone but there’s noone around you could ask to call you? Well, that’s what www.icantfindmyphone.com is for.

Looks like fun but alas it wouldn’t work for me.
Via @swissmiss


The Anti-Web Movement

The Anti-Web Movement
Though at times difficult to decipher there are some great points in this article on the burgeoning American app. culture and its effect on web publishing.

After 15 years as the net’s publishing platform of choice, a movement is growing that wants to put the web back in its box.
Blame the “app”. With little prior culture of mobile web consumption, publishers have barely given their HTML efforts five minutes in the sun before preferring to code snazzy, custom, closed interfaces instead in the likes of Xcode and Objective-C, in iPhone’s case.
After the desktop OS and browser wars of the late 90s settled down in to uniform web standards, many of us had thought the web, which runs through my veins, would become the mobile platform of choice in the same way. But, the rise of the revenue-making app store sales channel has coincided with publishers’ realisation that, if there are precious few ways of monetising content on the desktop web, then little would be different on the handset or tablet flavour.

Print is dying and outside of large websites like the NY Times, which in itself is difficult to read and lifeless, few print publications have truly embraced or innovated with their web efforts. Their web publications are generally profitable but not to the degree that it can carry the whole company. LeMonde is a current example with their profitable but barely recognized web division, management with no vision and an extremely expensive print operation.
Apps. give these dinosaurs the type of control that they have experienced in the past, with the medium that their customers are embracing, and a new more predictable revenue stream. It’s a package they can more readily understand. For the reader there is nothing new here. Most efforts I have seen for the iPad are nothing more than cheap imitations of the print version or a rehashing of what we used to see on cd-rom.

Sure; through a new focus on lean-back consumption over sit-forward distraction, the hyperactive attention deficit that comes with continual self-satisfied link clicking will dissipate. But so may the marvellous connections that the open web affords between people and content and places and pages, the opportunity to freely publish in an open ecosystem and the serendipity of discovering something unexpected at the end of a mouse click.

The Anti-Web Movement Is Gathering Pace


CellStories – mobile stories for your mobile

CellStories - mobile stories for your mobile
CellStories offers a new short story of between 1500 and 2500 words every weekday to readers on mobile phones. It’s a mobile only service, accessible only on mobile browsers, so as to create a proper context for reading — if you visit the site from your desktop browser you are presented with a welcome screen and encouraged to come back using your mobile.
Readers are welcome to submit their own stories.
Created by Dan Sinker, the founding editor of Punk Planet, CellStories was designed to be as simple as possible to enable use on any mobile devices with a web browser. One downside to this approach is the sorry state of typography via mobile browsers. I think we expect a better reading experience from the stories contained on this site than we might from an AP news feed. It’s a tradeoff you make for accessibility — the stories can be read on my iPhone or my small screen Nokia.
Forgoing relationships with publishers and app. stores allows for the inclusion of any story he deems readable.
As screen resolutions and sizes increase, reading is becoming a more enjoyable and practical activity on mobile devices. It’s becoming less of an experiment, art or demonstrator and more mainstream. Sinker says on the site, “Thankfully, the death of print meant discovering something much more valuable: mobile publishing.” I agree.
CellStories. Via MobileActive.
See also: DailyLit.


How People Use the Web on Mobile Devices

Mobile Web
mobile web growth
A paper by Yanqing Cui, Virpi Roto of the Nokia Research Center.

This paper describes a series of user studies on how people use the Web via mobile devices. The data primarily comes from contextual inquiries with 47 participants between 2004 and 2007, and is complemented with a phone log analysis of 577 panelists in 2007. We report four key contextual factors in using the Web on mobile devices and propose mobile Web activity taxonomy. The framework contains three user activity categories identical to previous stationary Web studies: information seeking, communication, and transaction, and a new category: personal space extension. The new category refers to the practice that people put their content on the Web for personal access, therefore extending their personal information space.

Insightful paper but like many papers like this suffers from the simple fact that by the time they are published they become somewhat dated. Their activity taxonomy still seems relevant — mobile behavior may be changing but these broad categories should still hold.