How Smartphones and Tablets Are Fueling the New Age of Commerce

Every day someone mentions responsive design. It’s hard for someone who’s been in the industry for a while to understand the appeal of this new buzzword considering all the published works of many experts focusing on contextual design, predicting the evolution of computer use forecasted by the shrinking of processors and the exponential increase of bandwidth and remote access. The focus is almost always on the devices and the technologies behind them rather than the human factor driving the change when it comes to business.

“But it’s a good reminder of how consumers are utilizing these devices to shop. And it highlights the fact that there are many shopping scenarios. You might see people scanning a product in a store with their smartphone, finding a better price online and then finishing the purchase at home on their tablet.”

What the above leaves out is the consideration that consumerism and shopping have changed as a result of simple access to information and increased capabilities in production. Where the industrial revolution brought about “business administration” in the world of supply-side economics, we’re seen a shift through the information age to consumer-choice economics. In other words, consumers are now in control of their access to goods and the information used for consideration of purchase. The devices and access points are merely channels or conduits that enable consumption. Instead of responsive design and focusing on technologies and compatibility, it is time to focus on human context, human behavior, the human factors that drive the evolution of these channels.

More on the Nielson Study at GigaOM




2 Responses to “How Smartphones and Tablets Are Fueling the New Age of Commerce”

  1. Pete Simon →
    May 3, 2012 at 3:46 pm #

    Tragic that the wikipedia article for responsive design makes no mention at all about UX context, only visual context, as laid out graphically, in grids. I agree that lots of people talk about RD like it’s a new thing, when CD has been around for a while. But both miss a lot when they fail to include the experience.

    I get it, that the grid changes, and certain images may be resized or eliminated altogether. But what’s even more important ( in my head, as a UXA ) is that in some contexts ( shopping, whatevs ) certain bits of functionality should drop off, or be included, based on context. So leaving out the context is bad, certainly… but in consideration of that context, leaving out different bits of the UX ( or including some, maybe ) is also tragic, and not helpful to good design.

    • Patrick S
      May 3, 2012 at 7:45 pm #

      Technical restraints are the reason for the lack of emphasis on how functionality changes based on context. Until a reliable way to quickly let the server itself know what the context is and then, in turn, serve up the functionality you want is developed, responsive design will have to focus on the design and interactivity of the user interface.

      The above said, there are some rudimentary changes which can be made only on the front end and in the design – changing layouts of navigation from lists to dropdowns, for instance, or simply hiding secondary actions behind an initial click.