A Lesson in Mobile Learning Design from Yelp [#mLearning]
I love this tweet, because it epitomizes how most people view the mobile experience, often as the “light” version of the desktop:
“It looks like you’re on a train. Would you like me to show you the insultingly simplified mobile site?”
— Cennydd Bowles (@Cennydd) April 21, 2011
I see this happening everywhere, including in organizations planning a Learning Strategy around mobile devices and desktops.
The problem is that it’s easy to make assumptions about the mobile user, we often picture him or her in a rush, trying to get many things done at the same time, all while holding a cup of coffee or a baby with one hand and a smartphone with the other.
Assumptions like these often lead to limiting the mobile learning use case to performance support or an insultingly light version of the much more powerful flash-based desktop version of the course.
But this may not always be the case, consider the results of a recent Google research project, which showed that 70% of mobile searches occur at home or at work and the rest on the go. And here’s another interesting statistic that came out of that same research, 77% of mobile searches are in a location (work or home) likely to have a PC available to them.
In other words there is such thing as an immobile mobile learner, someone who even though may have a PC within reach, would rather lean back with his or her Tablet or Smartphone and learn using those devices.
Another assumption we often make is thinking that something is too complicated and that no one will ever want to do that on mobile in a million years. Think again.
I was watching Charlie Rose interview John Donahoe, eBay’s CEO who said this:
“People are buying 8,000 cars a week on eBay’s mobile app.”
The lesson here is that if there’s something people do today on the desktop, they will also want to do that on mobile!
I got inspired to write this post when I read about the latest version of the Yelp app for iOS and Android.
It turns out that until now Yelp had only allowed their users to leave very short reviews in the way of “tips” using their smartphone app, likely because they thought no one in their right mind would want to use the virtual keyboards to leave a long review while inside a business or right after stepping out.
It turns out that mobile users wanted to do this much to Yelp’s surprise.
Here’s what Yelp said on their Blog:
Mobile phone usage has come a long way since the days of the hunt-and-peck, shorthand “C U L8R” texts. Nowadays, people are more mobile savvy and are becoming used to contributing long-form content directly from their device. These days, many people are interacting with Yelp solely through their mobile device. Which is why we’re introducing the ability to write and publish reviews on mobile! Yelpers can now contribute their useful, funny and cool reviews directly from their Yelp mobile application available today on iOS and coming soon to Android.
Learners are ready for Mobile and it’s time to deliver powerful mLearning experiences!