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Understanding mobile search & app interactions


(Slideshare deck courtesy of Karen Church)

Last Wednesday April 22th, I presented the paper “An in-situ study of mobile search and app interactions”, during a session chaired by Matt Jones and titled “Understanding Everyday Use of Mobile Phones”. This took place in Seoul, South Korea, during the International Conference on Human Factors in Camputing Systems, CHI2015. I want to share the deck that Karen Church and I put together for the presentation.

I also want to share some of the implications of our work.

We aimed at understanding the interaction between mobile search, its triggers and actions taken after search is conducted, and mobile app usage. In general, a users have a need that triggers the use of search. The users then use search and launch apps on their phones to satisfy that need. They frequently also take some actions with the information they have found.

We identified and classified common triggers and actions of mobile search, and found quantitative and anecdotal evidence of complex interactions between mobile search and mobile app usage.

We found that an overarching theme is task completion. More than being interested in launching apps, users have specific tasks in mind when searching for information on their mobiles. One example that we observed was searching for concert tickets at a good price. To do this, the user looped back and forth between a ticket app and a coupon app, copying and pasting information between the apps. But launching apps, copying and pasting are just steps to complete the main task. Those steps can become cumbersome when a user is trying to fulfill a need.

Similar interactions appeared between other apps, for instance, between messaging app and search, when users made collaborative searches in parallel, while they exchanged their findings in order to accomplish a common goal.

Users therefore need to have readily access to multiple sources to take appropriate post-search actions. App and search engine designers should take into account these interactions to facilitate task completion and this the satisfaction of their users’ needs.

We think that there is more work yet to be done in this area. In the meantime, both Karen Church and I would love to know about your thoughts on the topic, so feel free to contact us.

And of course, please read our paper.

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