Wireless Wonders

No news, just comment about mobile phones and services, from a veteran practitioner...3G, GPRS, WAP, Bluetooth, WiFi, etc...

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Dialling sites...

David usefully comments that dialling sites won't work for him, as he can't remember numbers. He also raises a number of other issues about URL entry on mobile devices, including using barcodes.

I agree about numbers. No one, except train-timetable fanatics, can remember numbers very well, which is why we use letters and have wordy URLs. I should have made it clearer that dialling is intended for public spaces, so that mobile marketing campaigns can be more effective on billboards etc. Numbers solves the data entry problem, not a memory retention problem.

We see a billboard and it says "Dial 1234 for more info on your mobile" or whatever...

The current options for engaging mobile users from public adverts are the increasingly popular text-ad campaigns. Often these are used for a keyword driven 2-way texting dialogue that typically is a single send and response cycle.

Some campaigns can drive a user to a site via WAP-push. However, this is essentially a huge fudge that we may have overlooked in our enthusiasm for WAP-push. If our end-goal is to get a user onto a WAP site, then here's what we're asking:

1. Compose text message
2. Send text message
3. Wait for response
4. Click on link in response
5. Wait for page

To me, that seems a little cumbersome.

We have to take a step back from our techie world and into user world. It doesn't matter how much the above process seems "acceptable", I am working to the principle that usability drives usage and that if there's a conceivable improvement, it's worth doing, especially in the mobile context.

We are not talking about replacing URLs. They are fixed. WAP is "Web-lite", which means we're sticking with the HTTP-URL model. We need a range of alternatives for entering URLs whilst keypads are still the limiting factor, which they are on MOST phones.

Barcodes are an alternative data-entry method and they are very useful, but not for billboards.

As for using Google to get the URL....I think we need to rethink that one.

That's probably the least efficient technique possible. Try entering "railtrack" in Google's WAP engine to find train times....

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