The 2009 MEX Manifesto


Today we announce the 2009 MEX Manifesto.

This is our annual challenge to the industry and in it we identify 8 key mobile user experience issues which must be addressed over the next 12 months. Rich with insight, stats and provocations, the Manifesto is the product of hundreds of discussions we’ve had with the MEX community over the last 9 months. I’d like to thank everyone who has already contributed.

The publication of the Manifesto represents the start of a complete process of learning and debate. It is a call-to-action for the industry to join together in responding and enhancing its collective knowledge of these topics.

The next stage is all about participation. We want to hear as many views as possible on these crucial issues. There are 4 ways to make your voice heard:


  • Add your comments to this blog (comment box at the bottom of the page)

  • Twitter using tag #mex09

  • Contact us directly (Marek Pawlowski by email or +44 7767 622957)

  • Register to take part at MEX09 in London

The Manifesto will be at the heart of the agenda for our 5th annual MEX Mobile User Experience conference on 19th – 20th May in London. I hope you’ll join us and be among the 100 leading thinkers in the mobile business as we learn, network and define a collaborative response to the Manifesto.

#1.

User interface design is key to leadership in application stores

We believe…current app stores are little more than glorified lists. They are time consuming to browse and innovative applications are often buried by poor interface design. The opportunity is for a next generation provider to transcend the traditional scrolling list and establish market leadership through innovative UI design, an open approach to commercial partnerships and advanced customer understanding.

Read the full statement (Stat Spots, Background Research etc…) | Add your comment below | Register for MEX09

#2.

Achieving great tactile experience is a subtle art

We believe…the tactile nuances of mobile products are of much greater importance to customers than the industry realises. Adding a touchscreen does not automatically equate to better user experience. The overall customer experience will be enhanced through a combination of touchscreens, additional touch-enabled surfaces, haptics and introducing new materials for devices casings, buttons and accessories.

Read the full statement (Stat Spots, Background Research etc…) | Add your comment below | Register for MEX09

#3.

Customer research methodology must be enhanced to close the reality gap

We believe…the industry must enhance its methodology for understanding customer experience and translating that knowledge into better mobile products. The continuing disconnect between the lifestyle of real customers and the experiences they’re offered points to an urgent need for new research methods and new ways of using that research within the product management structure.

Read the full statement (Stat Spots, Background Research etc…) | Add your comment below | Register for MEX09

#4.

Changing economics will facilitate increased diversity in handset portfolios

We believe…too many manufacturers are trying to copy Apple by focusing their resources on developing a single ‘blockbuster’ handset. Greater long-term success will be achieved by creating a unifying software platform and using it to deliver a wide range of devices, differentiated by the user experience factors which really matter to customers: form factor, colour, price, usability and applications.

Read the full statement (Stat Spots, Background Research etc…) | Add your comment below | Register for MEX09

#5.

Investment in input and display modalities must increase

We believe…enhanced input methods and font handling are key foundation technologies for revenue growth in mobile services. Combining these elements will allow customers to create, manipulate and share rich data more easily. With data-driven services now accounting for 20% of global mobile revenues and rising, investment in input and display modalities must increase to a similar percentage of R&D budgets.

Read the full statement (Stat Spots, Background Research etc…) | Add your comment below | Register for MEX09

#6.

The next billion customers are already here

We believe…the industry’s highly anticipated ‘next billion customers’ are already here, creating a wealth new user experience requirements. While executives from established telecom markets continue talking about when opportunities may emerge in developing markets, innovative companies in these regions are already using their unique knowledge of local conditions to deliver what users want.

Read the full statement (Stat Spots, Background Research etc…) | Add your comment below | Register for MEX09

#7.

The delicate art of balancing commercial imperative and user experience

We believe…mobile advertising is not the only way to monetise applications and services. A more sustainable revenue source can be found by identifying where and how customers perceive value, focusing on user experience and creating a revenue model which reflects the reality of user behaviour.

Read the full statement (Stat Spots, Background Research etc…) | Add your comment below | Register for MEX09

#8.

Location data forms an integral part of user experience

We believe…the potential for location to enrich the mobile user experience increases exponentially as the number of location-aware objects grows. Showing users where they are on a map or personalising data according to location is just the start. The ebb and flow of location data can itself form an integral part of the user experience.

Read the full statement (Stat Spots, Background Research etc…) | Add your comment below | Register for MEX09

Please share your views on the Manifesto by adding your comments below. When commenting on a particular statement, please use the Manifesto number as a reference, e.g. with regard to Manifesto No. 3…


7 Comments

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  1. 1
    Marek Pawlowski

    Please share your views on the Manifesto by adding your comments below. When commenting on a particular statement, please use the Manifesto number as a reference, e.g. with regard to Manifesto No. 3…

  2. 2
    craig vachon

    With digital media/content/applications expanding exponentially and new delivery devices evolving faster than pre-Cambrian life forms, it’s a truism that digital technology reigns supreme. Although it sounds like modern heresy, in some applications, digital technology is less potent than an older, less hip, predecessor technology: analog. The trend toward digital hegemony is unquestionable. Yet there’s a simple fact often overlooked: We are not digital. Human beings are analog creatures who interact with our environment through means honed over millennia of evolution. We interact with technology using sight, sound, and touch to access and control the glut of information increasingly inherent in our world.
    Unfortunately, many of the devices that deliver this content do not reflect this fact. We often end up using the lowliest device of digital technology, the digital switch, one that has just two states: on and off. While analog touch screen devices are becoming more prevalent – too often [i-phone, Storm, G1] these same user interfaces (UI) mimic a digital switch – and worse yet, offer no tactile feedback with the interaction.
    As more content and applications become available, it’s more urgent to find a way to interact with all that data with greater facility. For controls, we’re seeing some innovations in this regard, such as the roller-ball on the Blackberry and the aforementioned touch screen. Variable control is important, and improving control in the environment of a digital world may be the one of the critical missing links in the successful evolution of many of these devices.
    Just as importantly, the user experience in this digital world must incorporate tactile feedback. The other morning, I watched a nice older lady pound away viscously at a Southwest Airline’s touch screen kiosk that had a little latency and no analog touch feedback. If the kiosk had haptics (tactile feedback), she would have known that the digital device had received her input. Instead, her frustration rose and she abandoned the kiosk to head for a long line and an expensive face-to-face transaction. Should Southwest want to lower their costs, they might consider including haptics in their kiosks. Haptics have become so refined [with high analog resolution] that they can now mimic a digital switch with uncanny resemblance.
    Fortunately, help is on the way. Product designers, software developers, and the repetitive stress cries of the multitudes have given impetus to new types of analog controls and analog tactile feedback that will improve the user experience. Enactive learning [learning by doing – not by reading a book] is fast becoming the catch phrase from the human factors experts. Imagine having a user experience with a digital device where you did not need to learn via the operating guide – instead learned the capabilities of the device simply by using it.
    How many of the applications could benefit from improved analog control and haptic output? Basically – all digital devices can be more intuitive, simple and enactive when enabled with analog haptic feedback and controls. Analog control and feedback rules!
    Industrial design and product-design influencers are feeling the pressure to continually improve their products, to make them stand above the digital frenzy. Evolving these products to the humans that use them only makes sense, since simplicity and effectiveness are critical gating issues in all products we use. Haptics and analog proportional control are key elements in that process.
    The products that adapt to this reality may win Darwin’s ultimate prize – they will survive.
    Your thoughts? If interested in this subject, please join our Facebook and LinkedIn groups for more information and dialogue.

  3. 4
    Marek Pawlowski

    Thanks for an interesting response Craig. You make a fundamental and very valid point which is often overlooked in the technology industry – humans are not digital beings. This is the paradox which underlies all interface solutions for digital devices and is only going to become more important as humans spend more and more of their time interacting with digital rather than physical items. I wrote an article exploring the fringe future of this a couple of years back (Google for ‘Human integration and the death of the device’).

  4. 5
    Martin Vendel

    With regards to # 1:
    I think a store is a store whether it’s digital or not. I agree that the present app store lay out is terrible and that a better store lay out and shelf management is needed. A digital store should also have its “milk” far into the store so that you can display other offers and product on the way there, you should have candy by the cashier etc. Today’s app stores are like if an ordinary store would either organize all products by alphabetic order or constantly reorganizing the products so that the newest is closest to the entrance etc. That would make no sense and would most probably be really bad for business. There is a reason why this is not the case is real physical stores and I can not see why the same should not be true for a digital app store. The app stores are rather like a ware house and not a store. Maybe it’s time to rename them to app ware houses.

  5. 6
    Martin Vendel

    With regards to # 4:
    The present trend we see is rather more “iPhone-killers?, more app stores and fancy UIs. But does this really benefit the end user. We now rather see a trend where it becomes an even more difficult situation for the end user as well as for the content providers. There are now so many operating systems and platforms and app stores to that the costs to distribute content is significantly rising. This is not sustainable and there must be a solution to this. Will the economic situation help forcing change to happen? Maybe to some extent, but as long as the strategic agendas of the players are built upon vertical and walled garden approaches this will not be enough. We need a solution that utilizes the true strengths of the IP technology and Internet without getting stuck into the non existing standard mobile operating system. One concept that may solve this is the Universal Mobile Interface http://universalmobileinterface.wordpress.com/. This is an over the top, device and operator independent solution allowing the end user to stay in control and that also helps the content providers to reach all phones without bothering too much about the quite complex technical mobile situation.

  6. 7
    Martin Vendel

    With regards to # 6:
    The importance of the mobile phone in the less developed countries will drive massive innovation to the mobile arena. Remember that for most of these new mobile markets and users the first contact with the Internet will be through the mobile window. There are only about 1 billion PCs in the world to compare with the 4 billion mobile phones. This part of the world can not play around with costly services that scale badly but they will find new ways to use the mobile technologies for new cost efficiently applications. Once cost efficiency and volume is there these new services will spread globally. They will neither have fancy iPhones that replace every 12 months but will make use of simple phones. Once again there is a need to find a general cost efficient platform for content creation, distribution and consumption. You will find such a one in my comment to Manifesto # 4, the UMI. Having a general device independent solution will also for the first time create a possibility to get viral distribution which will further support the fast deployment of new services.

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