How Field Workers Use Industrial Mobile Apps in Real World Environments
Wednesday, August 10, 2016
Retriever Communications is a provider of mobile automation solutions for industrial enterprises and has announced the results of a recent study to investigate the effectiveness and efficiency of existing usability heuristics for mobile applications when applied to the industrial sector. The research examined the experiences of field technicians in depth, considering not just the devices and interfaces in isolation but also the broader physical, business and social environment within which they were used.
The study explored specific issues faced by technicians using applications in the field and proposed a new set of heuristics specifically intended for mobile applications used by them. The research was performed by Dr. Andrew Johnston and Michelle Pickrell of the University of Technology Sydney, and observed technicians in the telecom, delivery, elevator and dental equipment fields. The subjects used mobile devices running on Android, iOS and Windows platforms, with both native and Web-based apps.
The researchers focused on users' real-world experiences with mobile device applications, including the interface, hardware, user experience and control, internet access and use of mobile data. Through observations and in-depth interviews, researchers identified several common issues technicians encounter when using mobile applications for organizing and recording their activities.
Highlights from the research include:
- Screen color combinations must be designed for optimal field use
- Poor user experience remains a major deterrent to wider adoption
- Tablet and smartphone battery life is a fundamental driver of application success
- The effect of weather conditions on device and application reliability are too often ignored
- Field workers need contextual/historical work information to support their work
- Reliable data capture and offline capabilities are critical
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