I believe the word “mobile” can be used to define the user just as much as the device being used.
What mobile users expect often depends on the mental mode they’re in while using the handset (i.e., how I use a handset on the train home Friday night may be vastly different than I how use that same handset running 20 minutes late to the airport), but in general mobile users expect some specific information to support a very particular need at/for a particular point in time. While there certainly are many cases for “open-ended” or “exploratory/entertainment-based” information browsing on a handset, many use cases fall under looking for a particular piece of information – the price of an item, the time of a movie, or the availability of a table at a restaurant, for example.
Add to this that a mobile user, by this definition, is often in the midst of mobility – meaning that this person is often doing “Something Else” while using the mobile handset – such as walking, or keeping a child by their side in line, or (sadly) driving. This limited attention span, coupled with device constraints, is key in influencing your information architecture – which, in turn, influences your visual design (which in turn influences your usability).
At Acquity Group we work hard to understand user behavior and needs in the context of interaction occasions. This is particularly important when dealing with the mobile space. Without a full understanding of the context of a mobile experience, it’s impossible to develop a truly effective solution.
What mobile solutions (apps, services, campaigns, etc.) have you used that work really well for you?