Tuesday, December 06, 2011
Kindle Fire Usability Findings
Jakob Nielsen has completed a 4-user study on Amazon's colour tablet.
In a sentence:
Mobile web sites work best on the 7-inch tablet. Users had great trouble touching the correct items on full sites, where UI elements are too small on the Fire screen.
Excerpts from study:
To get an early understanding of a 7-inch tablet's content, services, and apps usability, we ran usability sessions with the Kindle Fire. Test participants had between 1.5 and 2.5 years' experience using touchscreen devices: half used Android phones and half used iPhone. This was a small study, with only 4 users, but qualitative studies often generate deeper insights than bigger, more metrics-focused quantitative studies.
The most striking observation from testing the Fire is that everything is much too small on the screen, leading to frequent tap errors and accidental activation. You haven't seen the fat-finger problem in its full glory until you've watched users struggle to touch things on the Fire. One guy spent several minutes trying to log in to Facebook, but was repeatedly foiled by accidentally touching the wrong field or button — on a page with only 2 text fields and 1 button.
Our iPad testing showed that full sites work quite well on 10-inch tablets. Conversely, testing mobile phones revealed that specialized mobile sites are superior on smaller touchscreens (typically, 3.5-inch diagonal).
For reading fiction, the older Kindle design wins.
The magazine reading experience could be good but actually is miserable because the content isn't designed for the device or for interactive reading:
"Page View" is unreadable and "Text View" has the worst layout I've seen in years. Illustrations are either too big or too small and are usually located far from the place they're discussed in the copy.
Kindle Fire suffers from bad UI design in many areas. For example, the highlighting feedback for touching a button is so small that your finger usually covers it, making it invisible:
If I were given to conspiracy theories, I'd say that Amazon deliberately designed a poor web browsing user experience to keep Fire users from shopping on competing sites. Amazon's own built-in shopping app has great usability, so they clearly know how to design for the tablet.