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December 21 2011

05:13

New Poynter eye-tracking study focuses on tablet design and user experience

Tablets have been around for a while, it's time we finally learn how people use them.

Well, SND STL was amazing and is finally in the books. After a little recovery and catch-up-on-reading time, I’ve found my next side project: The Poynter Institute’s new eye-tracking study, focused on tablet design and user experiences.

I remember when the previous eyetracking studies were released it was kind of like this kid on Christmas morning. I’ve regularly referred to them and re-read them throughout my career and now to be involved in the project now is amazingly humbling and exciting. The group involved in this round of research is like my fantasy journalism design team: Sara Quinn, Dr. Mario Garcia, Jeremy Gilbert, David Stanton, Rick Edmonds, Regina McCombs, Roger Black, Rusty Coats, Andrew DeVigal, Jeff Sonderman, Jennifer George-Palilonis, Michael Holmes, Damon Kiesow, Miranda Mulligan, Tor Bøe-Lillegraven, Nora Paul, Robin Sloan, and Matt Thompson.

Our focus this time around, tablets, are an interesting beast because they seem to marry dynamic and interactive content of the web with the portability and “lean back” nature of print or even TV experiences. Often lumped in with mobile devices, tablets are similar, but very unique in many ways. Mobile is always with you and very utility, speed-driven; tablets tend to be portable within the house and workplace, and early research shows that people tend to consume more content and for longer periods on them than either mobile or the web.

We’re going to look at design challenges such as which view do people people prefer to consume content in most frequently – portrait or landscape.  Even in those two options, I suspect the behaviors from users on an 10-inch, letter-box shaped device like the iPad may differ greatly from those on a 7″ tablet, like the Kindle Fire. Or the type of content they’re consuming will likely also change the results, from my personal anecdotal experience (and what I’ve observed in others), I tend to read text more frequently in portrait mode and video in landscape no matter what device. But that’s just anecdotal.

There’s lots to learn and this research will offer ‘more than a hunch’ solutions to help us all improve our products. Specifically, we’ll focus on some of these issues and questions, which Sara spelled out in her original announcement post:

  • Tools and tasks: How intuitive can tablet navigation be and how long does it take to successfully complete a task?
  • Satisfaction: How happy are users with an overall experience and how does that impact their perception of the credibility of the source?
  • Comprehension and retention: Which forms help people to understand and remember what they have seen or read?
  • Business and revenue: What strategies might work for news organizations? For advertisers? For consumers? How might editors set up a newsroom to create content for a tablet product?

How you can help right now

  • Your questions - Share your thoughts, comments and suggestions on the Poynter Eye-Tracking research page on Facebook and follow along there to learn more about what we’re learning.
  • Funding – The Knight Foundation and CCI Europe is helping kick in money, but the more funding, the more extensive research we can do. Please contact Sara about this at: squinn [at] poynter.org.

 

October 07 2011

19:46

What happens to books when the Kindle is free?

GigaOM :: Amazon’s recent announcement of the Kindle Fire — its color tablet that may or may not become a competitor to the Apple iPad — was what got the most attention last week, but the online retailer also made some other announcements at the same time, including a drop in price for the original Kindle to $79. Based on the consistent and gradual declines in Kindle prices, some have speculated that Amazon could soon offer them for free, sponsored by advertising or other similar deals. Which raises an interesting question.

Mathew Ingram: What would free e-book readers do to the book industry?

Continue to read Mathew Ingram, gigaom.com

May 28 2010

13:24

iPad or why pad? Mixed messages for UK news publishers

For those of you that have been in hiding and didn’t know, Apple’s iPad launched in the UK today with granular reports from the media on who was the first to buy the device to who was the first to emerge from Apple’s London store holding one (hopefully we’ll soon have details of who’s been the first person to leave theirs on the London Underground or to ask for a refund).

Bit of a love-in for the Apple store in the Telegraph’s report:

While braving the cold, the trio were given food and drinks by sympathetic Apple staff with several other customers offering them hundreds of pounds to replace them in line.

As Jake ran into the store, after a countdown, he was greeted by screams and cheers from dozens of excited staff members who hugged and high-fived him before posing for the world’s media.

And plenty of coverage from the Guardian, which, despite having its website on much of Apple’s pre-launch marketing material, has decided not to launch a news app on the device in time for launch. The title did announce today, however, that its Eyewitness photography app has been downloaded more than 90,000 times since the US launch of the product in April.

The Financial Times, as expected, and the Times have jumped onto the new touchscreen bandwagon. The Times iPad edition comes hot on the heels of the launch of its new website earlier this week, though the app’s pricing structure adds another layer to News International’s paywall plans.

Accompanying the Times’ launch, an article on ‘How iPad may make the future of newspapers a different story’, which suggests that:

Many media organisations think that it will give them the opportunity to correct past mistakes with online journalism, allowing them to charge customers for content and in return provide an enriched experience more compelling and interactive than printed newspapers.

Let’s hope the latter does come hand-in-hand with the former to make these news apps something worth paying for. New research from analysts Ovum warns publishers about sticking all their eggs in one Apple-shaped basket and ignoring other devices and a digital strategy addressing all platforms: web, mobile, tablet and future. At least the Financial Times, which is operating a standard, tiered pricing structuring across its various digital outlets, seems to get this. Meanwhile, media journalist Patrick Smith wonders whether you need a news app at all, arguing that apps are a convenient, but limited way of publishing information.

As a Financial Times report earlier this week says:

[M]any of the most popular European publications on the web – including the Guardian, the Daily Mail and the Economist – will not be in the App Store when the iPad launches in nine countries this Friday.

Digital publishers, analysts and design experts say the first publishers’ apps are confusing to use or boringly faithful to the offline product, and are not being used as much as hoped.

Media organisations might get the charging for content right this time around (although the Times’ model leaves some questions), but will content and designing to make the most of the iPad’s features be overlooked by some news organisations in the rush?

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April 06 2010

10:19
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