Multiscreen mobility

Over the past few weeks I’ve encountered a number of interesting articles which describe how the device landscape (and their patterns of use) are complex, and vary significantly by the user, the device type, and the task at hand.  This creates all kind of challenges and opportunities for those of us working in the fields of user experience, software development, and related fields!  A visualization of broadband usage data by device type starts to paint a picture of how usage varies by device:

One of the first posts I read in this vein was by blogger Luke Wroblewski, who evaluated the behavior of Read It Later (now Pocket) and LinkedIn users.  His research and analysis showed how users of the same service used multiple devices to engage with the site at different times of the day.  The whole article and the embedded links are a good read, but his visuals tell a powerful story in their own right:


Having this sort of analysis is a great start, but when you start to look at a user’s complete context and experience – and not just their engagement with a single piece of software, the story gets even more complicated.  Part of my interest in writing this post is to reflect on two recent articles that I thought did a particularly good job exploring that issue:

The first was a blog post from Precious Design Studio describing patterns to support designing multiscreen scenarios.  It’s called Multiscreen Patterns: Patterns to help understand and define strategies for the multiscreen world.  The author provides a link to a thoughtful and well-structured presentation about those patterns, but the visual summary also does a nice job delivering the key message:

Here is the complete presentation on SlideShare, if you’re interested.

The second is a study by the Google Mobile Ads team on their blog, which also does a great job describing the usage of different devices for a single user:

And how in turn that creates a host of design challenges and opportunities for providing a high quality experience on all sorts of tasks:

The Google report is available on Scribd if you want to read it in it’s entirety (which I’d recommend!).

I think almost every UX professional must hear “Oh, we should enable that on a mobile device!”  These pieces certainly give me pause … and make me realize how informed and thoughtful we need to be before we take that on in  a way that will actually enable how our users work.  In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this material, and the insights it offers on both mobile usage patterns and the challenges we face in designing mobile and multi-device user experiences!

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