July 20, 2010

Touch Screen Design Part 2: Who Is the Market for These Devices?


Hostway Team

By Meredith Barnhill

J.D. Power and Associates conducted a survey and found that touch screen users overall are more satisfied with their handheld device and adoption of these devices is growing at an exponential rate. While nearly every mobile and computing company is developing touch-screen phones and tablets, this technology doesn't appeal to every demographic.

Age Matters

comScore, a digital marketing intelligence company, released a report that found that 50 percent of the mobile smartphone market is under 35 and over 60 percent of the under-35 demographic are touch-screen users. Users from 18-24 are the fastest growing and largest touch-screen device users with users 17 and under being the largest user group for the iPod Touch—an iPhone without the phone.

The typical touch-screen user is young and quick to catch on to how a new piece of technology works. Because they are young, their attention span is also much shorter than that of the average adult, primarily because this user group has grown up with multi-tasking devices like personal computers and smartphones.

Types of User

Early adopters

Early adopters are users who get the latest gadget simply because it's new regardless of how technologically inclined they are. For this group, the simpler and more in-depth the directions are for navigating a Web site, the better. Making your Web site intuitive and easy-to-navigate will keep the frustration levels low and these users happy.

The tech savvy

These users are usually the foundation of any new technological device. This group adapts to new forms of usability more quickly but also has less patience for bad design or poor usability. This group will appreciate sleek design and simplicity as well as innovative uses of interactive elements like JavaScript or HTML5.

Corporate America

Businesses have long been loyal to BlackBerry smartphones to stay organized while in meetings or traveling. BlackBerry recently came out with the BlackBerry Storm, a touch-based smartphone with a screen that clicks for users who still enjoy a tactile response when clicking on Web page elements. Apple has also enabled Microsoft Exchange on its devices to better accommodate its business-class users giving designers more reason to optimize their Web experience for potential clients or business partners.

Other demographics use touch screens and smartphones, but in far less quantities than those above.

Mobile Devices vs. Computers

Gartner, Inc. a research firm, released findings that predict mobile phones to be the primary source of Web browsing by the year 2013. They predict that there will be 1.82 billion Web-enabled mobile devices on the planet, surpassing the number of personal computers by that time (1.73 billion). As a result, traditional Web sites will have to be redesigned to meet their user's device of choice. The report also predicts that mobile users will be less inclined to click through content on mobile browsers and the layout of those pages will have to be altered significantly to meet these expectations.

Come back tomorrow for the next installment in this series:

Part 1: Most Popular Devices
Part 2: Who Is the Market for These Devices?
Part 3: How Is the User Experience Different on a Touch Screen?
Part 4: Designing for the Finger Instead of the Mouse
Part 5: Touch Screens of the Future

About the Author

Meredith Barnhill is a multimedia journalist in Austin, Texas.

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