February 18, 2013 | Matthew Dull

Usability Best Practices for e-Gov Mobile Web Experiences, Part 3


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So far I’ve talked in depth about six areas of the mobile experience and best practices on how to execute them from a usability standpoint. In this final post of the series, I’ll take a look at phone-specific interfaces that play an important role in the citizen and consumer e-Gov mobile web experience.

Tap-sized Buttons and Links
Since visitors are typically navigating mobile sites with their fingers, sites should not design links and other interactive elements that are too small or densely located, which risks visitors targeting the wrong link.  State.gov’s site shown here makes it difficult to target the links in its footer:

EGov Mobile Best Practices 1 Tap-Sized Buttons and Links

Instead, links should be rendered more like buttons—larger touch points for interaction, typically filling the entire width of the screen, and designated with a carat symbol, as done on these examples from FAA.gov and House.gov:

EGov Mobile Best Practices 2 Tap-Sized Buttons and Links

Swipable Elements
Another mobile-specific touchscreen behavior visitors expect is swipability, particularly for rotating promotional blocks, carousels, or image galleries, instead of forcing visitors to target small Next and Previous buttons. However, these buttons should still be retained:

EGov Mobile Best Practices 3 Swipable Elements Correct

This functionality takes advantage of the phone’s ability to determine visitors’ location within the world, saving them the time and effort of manually entering this information.  The sites below would benefit from such functionality:

EGov Mobile Best Practices 4 Geolocation Incorrect

Mobile devices and sites should never breach users’ privacy by automatically determining their location. They should, however, volunteer it as a convenient option. The below site demonstrates the best practice of offering Geolocation functionality when visitors need to enter their address. Upon selecting it, their device presents them with an opt-in prompt that would allow automatic detection of their current location:

EGov Mobile Best Practices 4 Geolocation Correct

The most important thing to remember is to understand the expectations of YOUR customers or citizens that engage with you before attempting to build a mobile site or app or make major changes to existing ones. Keep in mind that every agency, retailer, bank – or whatever the case may be – is different. And that’s why it remains critical to measure satisfaction with a proven and precise customer experience analytics technology. This way you can build the right thing the first time for your customers. This saves time and crucial resources.

And it doesn’t stop there. Continuous measurement will help ensure future success by helping to pinpoint areas of improvement and determine when your visitors’ wants, needs, and expectations begin to change.

That concludes this three-part series on Usability Best Practices for Mobile Web Experiences. I hope you found it helpful. If you have any comments or tips you would like to share, please feel free to do so below.

Categories: Government

About the Author

Matthew Dull is a Usability Manager at ForeSee, where he guides a group of usability auditors experienced in conducting expert analyses of sites across a number of industries, including Retail, Healthcare, Telecommunications, and Government. Previously he was an auditor, conducting more than 100 audits for both large and small clients, as well as an Information Architect for a large automotive site. Matt received his Master of Science in Information degree from the University of Michigan, specializing in Human-Computer Interaction. He also holds a Bachelor’s degree in Biology from Franklin & Marshall College.

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