Converting Atomic Tasks of Mobile Users into Discreet Experiences

- 14th Mar 2013

Building and managing mobile applications is a complex endeavor involving multiple systems, activities and users. Any complex problem can be simplified by breaking it down, and if you can make those smaller units standardized, re-useable and easy to use (modular), you will make each activity (using those units) easier for the user, with a lower learning curve and higher recall.

We use modularity in the platform in technology and in design:

  • Breaking complex workflows into discrete units e.g. building an application, publishing, testing are separate tasks, which can be taken up in a non-linear manner. These were separated into specific stages in the Studio with their own interfaces. By reducing complexity of the entire flow into completing mini-goals, the user is able to complete tasks faster – which results in their belief that the system is simple (paraphrasing John Maeda’s third law of Simplicity)
  • Modular tools to address each independent task e.g. a builder to edit/build mobile sites, a feed manager to create content feeds, service list for management of live and draft applications, preview pane which emulates the configured service
  • Breaking up end-consumer activities and tasks into mobile experience modules which would be the building blocks of mobile applications e.g. photo carousels, survey forms, polls, news articles, Maps, menu links, catalogs, search

Here’s how we identify mobile experience modules for a particular industry.

We research current needs (stated and unstated) of business users and mobile users – primary and secondary user research, review the latest and most popular apps in the business, and speak with analysts in that space.

We then create our personas, role-play “A day in the life of Marie/Betty” and arrive at a list of discrete objectives and activities that “Shopper Marie” and “Boss Betty” do (see image). These are deconstructed into individual tasks and atomic actions, and are then evaluated for usability and repeatability. This is the genesis of modules for this industry.Here’s a little exercise for the UX and IX designers reading this.

  • How would you break up the actions that a user does when searching for a nearby store on their phone?
  • How would you break it up if you wanted to be able to reuse some of the modular actions in other scenarios?
  • Would you break it up the same way if you had to give the individual units to the person sitting next to you at work and ask them to put the first flow together?


Posted Under: Customer Experience