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Why You Should Test Your Mobile App With Drunk People

If you think mobile app’s UI is tough to pilot now, just wait until happy hour.

Why You Should Test Your Mobile App With Drunk People
[Image: Flickr user Bodie Strain]

If you’re worried about the usability of your mobile app–and every developer should be–then design your mobile app for drunk people, advises blogger Terence Eden. In a post this morning, Eden made light of a study conducted by Three Sheets Research, self-professed researchers and alcohol consumers who are dedicated to helping customers improve websites, marketing campaigns, and product concepts. (Their tagline: Choose Three Sheets Market Research. Because your customers drink.)

In the Cocktails and Customization study, they asked Samantha, a 21-year-old pharmacist, to visit three separate websites that offer customization with the goal to customize sneakers. The catch being that she had to drink several alcoholic beverages before and during her online navigation. The video below is Samantha’s ill-fated run-in with Vans’, Converse’s, and Nike’s websites.

Eden’s thesis: “Users have many demands on their time–being distracted by a phone ringing, or an incoming email, or a bright and shiny object has the same effect as being drunk. They return to the user interface with reduced thinking capacity.”

Step-by-step, Eden walks us through a night of drinking using his social app of choice, Untappd. He explains that as the night progresses and as does his beer intake, the app’s interface becomes less and less usable. “By the end of the night,” he writes, “the interface has morphed into this hot mess”; he can’t differentiate icons and buttons even if certain ones are brightly colored. (As it turns out, brightly colored “tiles” aren’t much better; check out this video, also by Three Sheets, about a drunk user encountering Windows 8.)

Eden proposes that fonts and texts need to be larger in the interface and that buttons should not, under any circumstance, be in close proximity to each other. Basically, it should be easier to select what you want on the page, but even in the off chance that you choose incorrectly, users should obviously have an “undo” option. Designers, developers, “it is your duty to adapt that interface!” Eden pleads.

[Hat tip]