The mobile Web experience has a long way to go before it matches up to the Internet experience on PCs, a new study shows. Even though we’ve become addicted to the convenience, the drawbacks of the grab-and-run Web are frustrating.
Not unsurprisingly, mobile Web use is heaviest amongst typical early adopters — males and young adults, according to eMarketer, a digital in intelligence company. Recent research commissioned by Antenna Software, a mobile solutions provider, shows that 20 percent of U.S. mobile phone users use the mobile Internet at least daily, with usage most frequent among men and those under 45.
The biggest complaint users voiced was about the speed and size of the mobile Internet. Overall, significant proportions of mobile Internet users said they would do more activities on their phone if the display were tailored especially for mobile use.
There are a number of reasons for this mobile discord, said Jakob Nielsen, a usability expert. It’s a more painful experience to use the Web on mobile phones than on desktop computers, he reported in his Alertbox column. This is mostly due to slower downloads, no physical keyboard, no mouse for selection and a bad combination of small screen and small text.
Mobile Web use also takes its toll on comprehension. Research by R.I. Singh at the University of Alberta shows that reading from an iPhone-sized screen produced comprehension scores for complex Web content that were only 48 percent of desktop monitor scores.
The only reason mobile scored lower than desktop is the screen size, Nielsen reported, since that was the only difference in Singh’s study conditions.
There are two reasons that the smaller screen hurts comprehension, he said: Users see less at any given time and users must move around the page more.
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