Live on BBC Business Breakfast and Radio: Why are we so addicted to our mobiles?

If you were watching BBC Breakfast Business News on channel 1 this Monday at around 7.50am you will have spotted our mobile expert and psychologist, Lisa Duddington, talking to Victoria Fritz about why we’re all so addicted to our smartphones and the effect it’s having on our lives. This is because new research by Deloitte confirms that the UK ‘has never been more addicted to smartphones’.

For most people this will confirm something you’ve felt for a while. Just looking around, you’ll have noticed the number of people walking down the street with their head down, engrossed in their digital mobile lives, perhaps you’ve even accidentally bumped into a few of these mobile zombies.

How about you? Do you think you’re addicted to your mobile?

Watch Lisa discussing our mobile addiction on BBC Breakfast (skip to 8 minutes in):

Are you addicted?

It might surprise you to learn that you check your mobile hundreds of times every day. Many of these are micro interactions – a quick press to check the time or to see if you have any unread messages or other alerts.

Our mobile is our constant companion. It’s replaced many other gadgets in our life and the more it replaces, the more we rely on it. It’s now not just a device for calls and texts, it’s our alarm clock that wakes us up first thing in the morning, it’s our sat nav to get us to work, it’s our note pad for reminders, it’s our calendar to organise our day for us, it’s our camera and video recorder to capture important memories, it’s our communication device and our means of accessing the whole world.

The younger generation having grown up with technology are exhibiting the heaviest levels of mobile use. In the generation z research Keep It Usable conducted last year, nearly 40% of young people claimed to use social media and messaging to communicate with friends for more than 6 hours every day. They’re also using ecommerce sites frequently; 27% browse products more than 5 times a day, 14% browse more than 10 times a day! This is a huge opportunity for retailers to convert young consumers using mobile platforms.

Psychology: Why are smartphones so addictive?

So we know we check our phones a lot, but what is it about them that makes us so addicted?

Well, if you think about it, smartphones are designed to get us to check them repeatedly. Every single alert aims to draw our attention to check the device. When we hear an alert we experience a sense of anticipation and even excitement at what we might have received. A new message from a friend makes you feel good and this leads to positive reinforcement, it makes the connection between an alert and the reward (the message) even stronger. This strengthens the connection and behaviour pattern so that it soon becomes a habit.

One of the reasons we feel the need to constantly check our phones is the fear of missing out (FOMO). If we take the example of a message from a friend, it’s very unlikely that we will let that message sit on our mobiles without reading it as it may potentially contain some exciting news or gossip that we feel we must read now or we might miss out!

Or course messages and alerts aren’t always positive like the example described. A lot of the time they’re quite dull and boring – a spam marketing message or a reminder to visit the dentist.  However, it’s this mix of positive and negative, of never knowing if an alert will make you feel great or not that keeps us addicted. This is called the variable reward model and it’s exactly the same model that is used in the design of slot machines. The unpredictability of the reward, the anticipation, the never knowing if the end result will be positive or not, the feel good factor of winning / receiving exciting news keeps us addicted. It is this variable reward model that makes them so addictive.

 

Listen to Lisa discussing why we’re so addicted:

Radio 5 (skip to 20 minutes in)

Radio 5 live

Radio Scotland (skip to 40 minutes in)

Radio Scotland

Nomophobia: What is it and do you have it?

Are you aware of where your mobile is at all times? Do you ever have moments of fleeting panic when you can’t see your mobile? When you leave your mobile at home do you feel anxious and feel like a part of you is missing? If you’ve ever lost or had your phone stolen did you experience high feelings of anxiety or depression? If so, you likely have nomophobia.

Nomophobia (no mobile phone phobia) is the fear of not having your mobile with you. It’s very real and is something we’ve probably all experienced at some point in our lives. Unsurprisingly, nomophobia is more prevalent amongst younger people and effects them when they lose their mobile phone, run out of battery or credit, or have no network coverage.

Nomophobia

How mobile addiction effects our health

One of the surprising and concerning findings from the Deloitte report is that a third of UK adults and half of 18-24 year olds check their mobile phones in the middle of the night. A third checking for messages and a sixth replying to them!

Now to understand the impact of this, we need to look at how the brain reacts to light. Blue light makes the brain think it’s time wake up, red light makes the brain think it’s time to sleep. Blue light suppresses melatonin, it helps with sleep timing and our circadian rhythms. The problem is that this is the same light emitted by our mobile phone screens. Basically, looking at your mobile screen in the middle of the night will make you feel more awake and disrupt your sleep pattern, making you feel much more tired the next day.

Oh and did you know that sleep texting is a thing now? Yes people are now texting during their sleep, posting all sorts of things and not remembering any of it!

 

Fancy switching off?

If all this is sounding worryingly familiar, don’t worry, there are some simple steps you can take.

Try switching your phone off at night time and if possible don’t use it just before you go to sleep – read a book instead and you’ll find you sleep better, waking up more refreshed.

During the day, try not to check your phone as often (it might help to turn it off for a set time), or have set points in the day where you check your phone and email, this will limit the disruption to your daily work.

If you turn to your phone when commuting or when in a new social situation, try putting your phone away and instead notice the things and the people around you. You might notice new things and find you speak with more people, you might even make new friends.

Feeling brave? Leave your mobile at home for a whole day and see if it has a positive effect on your life.

8 Technology trends you need to know for 2015

2015 is looking to be a really exciting year for innovation.  We get excited by new technology and the challenges that brings, especially with regards to designing for challenging smaller screens – how you can engage users and showcase information without sacrificing the experience? Here are some technologies and trends we’d recommend keeping your eye on in 2015.

1. Wearables

Wearables are becoming big business and the growing trend will continue to thrive in 2015, particularly in fitness, fashion and health.  More affordable wearables are likely to hit the market and will bring wearables to the masses.

Keep-It-Usable-Wearable-Tech-Nike-Fuelband

2. Apple watch

A handful of companies such as Google, Samsung and Sony have launched wearables in the form of watches.  This year, will see the Apple watch hit the market which will disrupt and put smart watches on the map.  This will have huge implications for how we communicate, interact and consume information.  The potential is vast, particularly for connectivity and health.

Apple-Watch-sport

3. Digital health

2015 will be the year that healthcare finally wakes up to digital!  Wearables that can monitor everything from measuring steps in fitness to improving your hearing.  Rings, hearing aids, headphones and much more will hit the market.  Could we even see the first digital implant…?! There is already a digital pill.

Health-Wearables

4. Internet of things

From controlling lighting and heating, TVs, appliances and even connecting your body. We will use technology to increasingly monitor and intelligently improve our lives.  The promise of major connectivity and intelligence is exciting and we expect to see this technology grow rapidly in 2015.

Keep-It-Usable-Internet-Of-Things-Philips-Hue

5. Major growth in mobile e-commerce

Mobile will be huge in 2015 and will continue to disrupt e-commerce.  8 in 10 smartphone users use their phones at some point during the purchase process and with mobile screens increasing in size, their popularity is projected to grow enormously in 2015, meaning users will consume even more data on mobile.  Mobile growth is larger than tablet with 186% average growth in sales via mobile compared to 131% in tablet e-commerce.  Read our e-commerce insights for 2015 >

Keep-It-Usable-Mobile-Shopping

6. Mobile wallets

2015 will be the year that contactless payment methods like NFC (near-field communications) really start to take off.  Larger banks are likely to offer NFC payments via smartphone by the end of 2015 with 5% of NFC enabled mobiles being used to make contactless payments.

Apple-Pay

7. Omni-channel retail experience

The future of retail will be a seamless approach to the consumer experience through all available shopping channels, i.e. mobile devices, computers, physical stores, television, radio, mail, etc. Omni-channel retail represents an experiential change for the connected consumer as all touchpoints with a brand become one. Example: Customer browses products online then when they enter a physical store they get these products retargeted to them as ads or offers in-store. Read about how digital tools will change the in-store shopping experience >

Keep-It-Usable-Omni-Channel-Retail-Experience

8. Usability

With the rapidly changing technological landscape and continuing explosion of digital into more and more products, it has never been so important to focus on user needs, psychology and behaviour.  Great usability will no longer be a nice-to-have, it will be mandatory in order to create a successful product. There’s never been a more important time to Keep It Usable.

Keep-It-Usable-Mobile-UX

How customers REALLY shop using Smartphones

Mobile on the goGoing mobile has become a business imperative.

New research has unveiled the way customers really use devices and highlights the importance Smartphones play in researching and purchasing may have previously been underrated.

The research shows that context and the user’s aims play a major role in the choice of device. Convenience is also an important factor. Understandably, the Smartphone is the device users reach for time and time again, even if the experience is better on a PC or tablet – their mobile is always within reach.

 

Many times we turn to the screen that is closest

 

Context drives device choice

 

Smartphones have by far the highest usage for daily interactions with digital media. However, the interaction doesn’t end there. People now use different devices either at the same time or sequentially in what we call ‘multi-screening’.

 

There are two modes of multi screening

 

So how does this effect online shopping behaviour? It is not as straight forward as a simple path from browse to purchase. Consumers flick between devices, using them for different purposes, depending on the context they’re in as well as the time they have available.

We often move from one screen to another when shopping

 

Most consumers (by a large majority) actually begin their shopping experience on their smartphone. They then continue the same shopping experience on their PC/laptop.

 

Consumers take a multi-device path to purchase

 

Why would so many users not continue to purchase your product on their phone?

– Context. If they’re on the bus or on-the-go it may just be inconvenient.

– Time. When people are bored and want to kill some time they’ll start browsing using their phone. This ‘pecking’ behaviour is often done in short bursts.

– Content. Most mobile sites are slimmed down versions of the PC version. Users know this and may postpone their purchase until they can get to a PC to read more about the product and see larger images, read reviews, etc.

– Ease of purchasing. Many sites still have overly long and complex checkout processes, requiring registration and card payment details. These forms are easier and faster to complete on a PC with less frustrating input errors.

– Trust. Some people are still wary of purchasing through a mobile device.


Smartphones are the most frequent companion devices during simultaneous usage

 

The user’s purpose has a large part to play in which device they use. Think about your business. Does it drive users to interact with your website via a particular device? Looking at the following slide we can see that for activities such as searching for information and browsing the web, users prefer to reach for their Smartphone. However, if they are planning a holiday they are less likely to use their phone. If you think about, planning a holiday takes a fair amount of time and research. It is a more complex use case that involves looking at multiple sites, information search, reading reviews, sharing details with friends and looking at large images.

 

Smartphones are the most common starting place for online activities

In summary, smartphones are the backbone of our daily media interactions. They have the highest number of user interactions per day and serve as the most common starting point for activities across multiple screens.

Businesses need to consider:

– Adjusting conversion goals to account for the differences in end user goals when using each device.

– Tailoring the user experience to each device to account for the differences in how users shop.

Going mobile has become a business imperative.

Read the original research by Google 

2012 Mobile Trends

2012 mobile

Mobile is big business. The iPhone paved the way for smartphones, increasing their popularity and acceptance; now 48% of UK mobile users own a smartphone and this figure is sure to grow along with the tablet market. People are also using mobiles to make purchases, generating substantial web traffic and revenue for those companies who have ensured a good mobile user experience for their consumers.

A recent Forrester report analysed what trends we can expect in 2012. Here, we present a brief summary of the main findings.

 

 

‘How’ mobile services are delivered will differentiate them, not ‘What’ they deliver

Those companies that focus on a simple user experience and convenience will be the ones who stand out from their competitors.

Walgreen recently announced that 40% of its online pharmacy sales originate on mobile devices. Its success is rooted in the simplicity and convenience offered by its mobile prescription refill functionality. Delivering convenience will demand a close partnership with customer experience professionals, as most improvements will come through the design of the experience.

New Smartphone users will be less sophisticated

In the past, Smartphones were predominantly used by business types. This is no longer the case and ease of use will become even more important.

Connective mobile technologies will continue to grow

Augmented reality, 2D bar codes, NFC to discover digital content that compliments real world experiences will continue to grow.

Connecting consumers with the right content at the right time will become increasingly important to influence purchase decisions in physical locations.

Increasing customer engagement and satisfaction: top company objectives for mobile

A great user experience is all about increasing engagement and customer satisfaction. With your competitors focussing on this, can you really afford not to?

Need for both applications and the web

Mobile shoppers are using both applications and the mobile web so it’s worth ensuring you provide both.

Social, local, and mobile (SoLoMo) needs added incentives for consumers

Apps that require users to check-in are used infrequently and need added incentives for users to check-in with them regularly.

Growth of tablets

Adoption rates of tablets are expected to reach 12% in Europe and 19% in the US by the end of 2012. If your digital presence isn’t optimized for tablets, now is the time to start working on it.

 

Is your business ready for mobile? (Infographic)

As smartphones (and tablets) swiftly become the norm, the need to ensure your business has a good user experience on these platforms is crucial. Did you know that half of all shoppers own a smartphone? And 38% of them have made purchases on their mobile?

In the next few years the number of smartphones will treble the amount of PCs! The smartphone is the lazy man’s computer. It’s also the computer they have by their side 24 hours a day, so why would they waste time turning on their PC when they can simply pick up their mobile? The answer is your customers won’t.

Having a mobile presence isn’t good enough though. We know from conducting many mobile user tests that mobile users are much more frustrated by a poor experience and badly designed apps. They’re more time stricken, less patient and more easily distracted by what’s around them. That’s why you need to make sure your mobile presence has the best user experience it can possibly have. Usability testing with real users is incredibly important to make sure you’re providing not just a user-friendly experience but one which meets their needs whilst on the move and will keep them coming back for more.

Mobile growth infographic