Retriever Communications Releases Results of Field Service Study; Provides Usability Heuristics for Mobile Application Design

Research Examines Field Workers' Real-World Use of Mobile Applications in Industrial and Logistical Settings and Establishes New Guidelines for Mobile Application Design and Assessment

Sugar Land, Texas, UNITED STATES

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA--(Marketwired - Aug 2, 2016) - Retriever Communications, a global provider of mobile automation solutions for industrial enterprises, today announced the results of a study aimed at investigating the effectiveness and efficiency of existing usability heuristics for mobile applications when applied to the industrial sector. The study explored specific issues faced by technicians using applications in the field and proposed a new set of heuristics specifically intended for mobile applications used by them.

Commissioned by Retriever, the research was performed by Dr. Andrew Johnston and Michelle Pickrell of the University of Technology Sydney, and observed technicians in the telecom, delivery, elevator and dental equipment fields. The subjects used mobile devices running on Android, iOS and Windows platforms, with both native and Web-based apps.

The researchers focused on users' real-world experiences with mobile device applications, including the interface, hardware, user experience and control, internet access and use of mobile data. Through observations and in-depth interviews, researchers identified several common issues technicians encounter when using mobile applications for organizing and recording their activities.

Key Observations:

  • Screen color combinations must be designed for optimal field use
  • Poor user experience remains a major deterrent to wider adoption
  • Tablet and smartphone battery life is a fundamental driver of application success
  • The effect of weather conditions on device and application reliability are too often ignored
  • Field workers need contextual / historical work information to support their work
  • Reliable data capture and offline capabilities are critical

As a point of confirmation that offline capabilities remain a priority, a recent US federal study into the government's use of mobility applications stated that connectivity issues ranked as the number one challenge by IT, among 15 different IT issues in 2016*.

To access the complete study, that includes the new industrial mobile usability guidelines, please visit:

"There are a number of well-known interface design guidelines, or heuristics, but few are targeted specifically at mobile devices. This research is important because it is grounded in thorough examinations of users' actual, real-world use of mobile technology as they go about their daily work," said Andrew Johnston, Senior Lecturer at the University of Technology Sydney.

"We often see developers and designers creating applications that are an extension of the backend platform and are therefore disconnected from the actual real-world experience of a field worker," said Mary Brittain-White, CEO, Retriever Communications. "The usability study provides an improved understanding of how field workers use mobile apps in real-world settings and the resulting heuristics aim to promote more intuitive interactions with field applications for increased productivity."

About Retriever Communications
Retriever Communications has been providing field force automation technology internationally since 1996. Privately-held with corporate headquarters in Sydney, Australia and North American headquarters in Houston, Texas. Retriever's wireless field solutions improve productivity and automate data collection processes for companies with field operations -- operators to service companies in energy, petroleum, and utility industries.

Retriever Communications is a Frost & Sullivan Entrepreneurial Company of the Year award winner in the category of Industrial Mobility and Gartner Field Service Management Magic Quadrant participant.

*Source: National Cooperative Highway Research Program 'Uses of Mobile Information Technology Devices in the Field for Design, Construction, and Asset Management' (2016) Transport Research Board, Washington DC.

Contact Information:

Irena Boostani
LEWIS for Retriever Communications