By Pamela Pavliscak

At Generate New York on 28 April, Pamela Pavliscak will give a talk, grounded in the latest research, that will look at current examples of emotion AI and present guidelines to design for emotional intelligence. Don’t miss it and get your ticket today!

The statistics say that there are more people who own smartphones than use a toothbrush, most people are using their tablets while watching TV, and many are showrooming while shopping in a store. A lot of what we know about people and their mobile devices comes from high-level data, but these stats tell us very little about what people actually do on mobile sites and apps.

Analytics capture behaviour, but stay on the surface. Surveys get at some of the feelings people take away from a site after using it. The only way to gain insights to make the experience better is by doing slow work of watching it unfold and asking the right questions.

Like a lot of consulting firms, Change Sciences leads research on mobile sites and apps all the time in the lab, online and in the wild. These studies tend to be small: usually about 20 people per study. We also run larger online studies that are observational at the core, and these studies tap about 100 people. To get more (and better) data about the mobile user’s experience, we have to aggregate. That is, we bring together all of the data from all of our mobile studies to look for patterns and trends. The data here represents 500 people.

Here are top 10 things we’ve learned about the mobile experience; bear them in mind if you want to know how to create an app that’ll get people’s attention.

01. People rely on mostly three gestures

People use three gestures for almost everything; they don’t want to spend a lot of time trying out new ways of interacting. They just use what works on other sites or apps.

Scroll: The most frequently used gesture is scrolling. 94 per cent of people use this gesture more than three times in a session of 10 minutes or longer. It is familiar from desktop use. And it is a gesture that is not closely tied to a visual cue, like tap or swipe.

Swipe: Swipe (77 per cent) is well used and understood. People will try it at the top of a screen, whether arrows are present or not. Further down, they are less likely to do it unless there is a visual cue.

Tap: Tap (72 per cent) is used often too, but people are not tap-happy. On desktop, we see people click and click trying to make a link or button go. On mobile, that is not the case. Tap is not equivalent to a click.

Pinch to zoom: People know how to pinch to zoom, but use it less frequently. Because people mostly need to zoom on mobile sites that aren’t responsive or mobile optimised, they will often look for a link to a bigger …read more

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