So, I’m involved in a process at work in which we are reviewing some mobile strategy presentations put together by Gartner. One of the big things that they keep hammering away at is that in this “new world”, user experience is really important. They talk about how it’s suddenly important to make user applications useful and meet your user expectations, even if (gasp!) the users are internal corporate users! OMG!
This has, of course, always been true with every piece of software ever built. Designing a craptacular user interface that hinders productivity, increases learning curves, or requires complex workaround to overcome system flaws has always been a problem. It’s always been important. What has changed? App Store ratings! For the first time ever, users get to read what other users think of your app before they try it and it radically impacts your adoption and support in a visible way! Suddenly the bitching about how bad the application is exists in a written, visible, public, form, instead of taking place over beer after work or inside the head of the users. This means that suddenly management is saying, “oh my, for mobile apps we actually need to think about user experience or we’ll get one star reviews!”
This is what it took? Decades of usability studies and UX research and it isn’t until your users have a publicly visible place to give you a black eye that you listen to what they’ve always said?
In short, usability matters. It has ALWAYS mattered. The mobile space isn’t special or different. They are just tiny computers with touch screens. A good app is a good app. A bad app is a bad app. The difference is not that the devices are mobile, it’s that there is a high visibility feedback mechanism.