DESIGNING MOBILE SEARCH: Turning Limitations into Opportunities

Understanding Mobile Platforms PAGE 256

Optimizing User Experience for Mobile Context of Use PAGE 260

Changing Search Paradigms PAGE 266

If you are thinking about porting your store site to iPhone-, Android-, or Windows Mobile-based devices, it would be shortsighted to treat these devices as simply computers with tiny screens. Designing a great mobile search experience requires a way of thinking quite different from that employed when designing search for Web or desktop applications. To put it simply, designing a mobile search experience requires treating limitations as opportunities. This chapter discusses some of the limitations of mobile platforms, and the opportunities they afford, and shares a few design ideas that might come in handy when embarking upon your own projects.


One of the challenges of mobile application design involves understanding both the capabilities and limitations of each platform. Today's mobile device has quite a bit to offer, including a high-resolution screen, multitouch controls, accelerometer, persistent data storage, smooth video transitions, push content delivery, and GPS. On the other hand, these devices present quite a few challenges to application developers, including the following:

  • the difficulty of typing
  • the small amount of screen real estate
  • awkward touch controls
  • the so-called fat-finger problem

Few sources discuss these in detail, ...

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