Have you worked with an employee with a disability? Are you an employee with a disability? Then, you know the unique challenges of the average workplace that able-bodied colleagues may never experience. Workplace challenges could be overcome with accommodations such as larger computer monitor displays, wheelchair-accessible office furniture or a voice reader. In some cases, a mobile app is a solution to a workplace challenge. October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month.
Mobile UX Guideline 3
A penny saved is a penny earned. But spending your pennies on mobile development is necessary to meet 21st century needs. Regardless of how you plan to create that awesome anytime, anywhere mobile experience, it’s going to cost you. While the most obvious parts of the mobile price tag for native app development are initial development and launch, the long term maintenance of the app must also be considered.
With 14 test cycles under our belt, the Federal CrowdSource Mobile Testing Program has heard one recurring theme from our testers—”there’s too much information!” While both desktop monitor and smartphone screen sizes are growing, there is still no comparison. At our desks, many of us are using a 24 inch (or even bigger) monitor. How big is your smart phone? Way smaller than a desktop monitor. The user will have a radically different experience on a desktop, and they are usually expecting a different experience.
In most instances, your hardware and software are developed independently but are expected to function properly together. For example, when a Web application is developed in HTML, it is expected to function properly on an Apple computer using Safari as well as a Windows computer using Internet Explorer. This sounds simple, but there are thousands of combinations of browser types and versions as well as operating systems, and the number of combinations increases exponentially as we add in the multitude of mobile device makes and models.
Government agencies need to make sure their mobile websites and native apps don’t become one of the estimated billions of applications that end up in the app graveyard. The need for digital products to work better is not new in the federal government. Resources like the Digital Playbook and Public Participation Playbook have had impact helping agencies become user-friendly and both of these resources note the importance of developing usable products for mobile users.
All content needs to be developed with a mobile-first strategy, from headline choice to paragraph length. Although we are all now living in a post-mobilegeddon world, many of us are still implementing a mobile strategy. This strategy should consider several factors, including viewport size, cellular versus WiFi considerations, and load times. It should also include a review of existing content and a rethinking of new content, down to what I will call the “cellular” level (no pun intended).
Analytics company, Localytics, released a new report about mobile app retention rates from the past 4 years that agencies should heed when considering their needs for building native mobile apps, compared to mobile-friendly websites. In the U.S. the number of users that re-engage more than once after installing is pretty low, with 19% of American users abandoning after just one use. The number of “regular” users who have opened the app more than 10 times is also low—42% in 2015, but that is trending upward from 41% in 2014 and 35% in 2013.
Federal agencies do not get a free pass on accessibility for mobile—as we stated earlier this month, Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act applies to ALL information and communication technology (ICT). Luckily, there are a number of organizations working on guidelines and practices to help the private and public sectors create accessible mobile websites and applications. The M-Enabling Conference, an annual event dedicated to making mobile technology accessible, brought experts from around the world to talk about guidelines and practices for these efforts.
The more you test, the more you know. We recently highlighted lessons learned from the CrowdSource Mobile Testing Program, discussed the mobile emulator dilemma that many agencies face, and today we’re back with a few insights on native app testing. The Federal CrowdSource Mobile Testing Program yields a rich set of participant feedback that helps individual app creators improve their product. While the program primarily tests mobile websites created by federal agencies, the team tested early prototypes of the American Battle Monuments Commission’s Normandy App and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s CrowdMag app as a pilot.
Armed with a smartphone instead of a badge, ordinary Americans are helping law enforcement officers capture child predators. After exhausting all investigative leads, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents turn to the public for help to locate fugitive child predators through the Operation Predator smartphone app and social media outreach. And it’s working. Since Operation Predator launched for iPhones in September 2013 and Android devices in Oct 2014, the app has assisted in 6 arrests on charges related to child exploitation.
Before coming to DC in late 2008, I lived in Louisville, Kentucky. Louisville is in the Ohio Valley Region, which meteorologists euphemistically call “weather-rich.” With spring came the beautiful flowers and the Kentucky Derby. Spring also brought flooding, tornadoes, severe thunderstorms, and windstorms. This is why I had several emergency weather radios that also doubled as flashlights and cell phone chargers. I also have several emergency information apps on my smartphone.
Mobile user habits are a moving target, and designers have to adjust accordingly. Creative Bloq offers their Top 5 Trends in App Design for 2015 gathered from trends in changing hardware, increasing popularity of apps and the increasingly personal nature of mobile devices. Bigger Screen Sizes. As we noted in last week’s Trends on Tuesday post, the smartphone sales increase in 2014 was partially due to the growing numbers of “phablet-sized” smartphones.
Don’t forget, mobile first strategy can include text messaging and SMS, not just native apps and responsive Web design. Ninety percent of all SMS messages are read within three minutes of being received, according to a recent blog post on Gigaom. Paired with an average open rate of 98% (versus 22% for email) and the fact that any mobile device out there is able to read a text message, SMS is a great way to reach out to pretty much anyone.
Approximately 18% of websites have implemented Responsive Web Design, according to the audit of websites Guy Podjarny completed in November. That’s more than 7% growth since his previous audit in January 2014. That number may seem low with the popularity of Responsive Web Design and the preference of mobile websites from users, but implementing responsive Web design is not as easy at it seems. In a report last year, Forrester found that “few organizations have the budget or risk appetite to ‘responsify’ all of their Web assets in one fell swoop.
Resources like Theresa Neil’s Mobile Design Product Gallery book and Mobile-patterns.com describe, and provide examples of, common features mobile developers can implement and tailored further to satisfy their users. As mentioned in this week’s Trends on Tuesday, customizing apps to meet users’ needs is a crucial part in maximizing user experience. Today, we wanted to highlight how some agencies are implementing search, maps & geolocation and custom navigation to better their mobile product’s user experience.
The job of the American Battle Monument Commission (AMBC) is to manage all overseas cemeteries and memorials from WWI and WWII. There are over 200,000 veterans who are buried or memorialized at these cemeteries. When ABMC began thinking about releasing a native mobile application, they had two primary objectives: 1) The app should be able to serve as a “tour guide” to the millions of visitors who visit the memorials in person.