When Mobile User Interface Meets Market Forces



We are in the midst of the third revolution of mankind, the technological revolution in general and the communication and information phase in particular. In the past 30 years we have experienced changes and developments that created an evolution in the way we think, live, communicate, buy and sell, advertise, get information, and transfer data.

This revolution is reflected and motivated by three major factors: change in market needs and requirements, change in users’ demands and experience, and rapid technological developments, availability, and accessibility.

Product success is dependent more than ever on customer experience, and so we witness the increase in the use of natural language interfaces to redefine man-machine relations.  

The revolution and changes have raised new concerns regarding user interface (UI), mainly due to the exponential growth of mobile applications.

The combination of computing and Internet yielding smartphones has created new boundaries in the way we communicate, and, as a result, the following new issues to consider when discussing mobile user interface:

  1. A multidisciplinary approach to user interface
  2. The need for an easy, friendly, and natural language understanding-intelligent interface
  3. The usage of segmentation and  personalization  best practices
  4. A multimodal user interface

A multidisciplinary approach to mobile UI

User interface is a multidisciplinary area. It relies on the theory of man-machine interaction for a specific product. It is also part of the branding of a product and greatly affects the customer experience.

Mobile user interface, whether graphical, voice, or multimodal, involves planning and interaction on several levels with the core technology of the product or application. But on the other hand, the user interaction must remain easy, friendly, natural, and intuitive.

It seems to me that as user interface designers, our mission statement has to change. In order to triumph, we must look at the big picture, think about the end-to-end interaction process, design each of the interfaces and then "glue" them together integratively and holistically.

As such, good mobile UI involves engineering, graphical design, technological interface, machine learning, application design, and the study of usability overseas by marketing and sales.

These issues are all interlinked. Only a holistic view of all these disciplines will enable a successful man-mobile interaction.

An easy, friendly and NLU-intelligent interface

Today, it is not enough for a mobile user interface to be easy, friendly, and intuitive. These are a given. The next step is to provide an intelligent interface based on natural language understanding, which is essential if we wish to enable true productive dialogue. This is pointed out by Bill Meisel in his blog “Apple’s next big thing” discussing Siri’s next step: ”The core breakthrough that will propel the next cycle of growth is natural language understanding and speech recognition technology,” he writes.

There are many levels of “understanding” language, and for many years, it was sufficient to concentrate on one area, with predefined language coverage.  The man-machine dialogue was pretty structured and allowed minimal variations. Personal assistants and contact center avatars are required to know more, understand more, and use profound language.  Furthermore the interface is expected enable customization and personalization. The user want to be able to select designs, features, interaction modes, and the flexibility to change them as his environment, location, and even mood changes. This is where multimodality takes comes into play.

Multimodality

Traditional type, touch, and even talk are currently mainstream interfaces. Personalization takes form in multimodality, such as using your face and voice biometrics for identification and personal security. Gesture and emotion detection capabilities have opened a new mode of interaction and helped the industry to take a huge step when it comes to providing interesting services.

Multimodality is a growing trend in the market and a marketing and branding differentiator. Yet, it poses technological challenges of integration and design in the infrastructure level as well as the user interface. Bill Meisel warns us about the danger of creating a “digital overload” situation of too many features, too many services.”  Thus, multimodality balance has to be maintained.

Segmentation and personalization

Segmentation is also a key factor in user mobile interface design. Generations Y and Z made it possible for designers to think out of the box. Our audience today is flexible, open-minded, and, most importantly, adapting to new technologies and behaviors. We should be able to create UI segmentally, so that we can mix and match design features according to a user's personal profile, segment, and preferences.