Just last week it came up that the screen size web designers should be considering is the tiny one on hand-held devices, like the iPhone or Droid. However, while user experience on these phones is important, it may be a bit premature to put too much effort toward this medium. By tracking how those most comfortable with technology use digital tools it appears in the world of hand held devices text messaging is primary use not accessing the internet.
A recently published Pew Research study shows that Generation Y (the so-called “upload generation”) use their phones more as a communication device than as way to access the internet. In fact 63% of teens with phones do not have a data package. This may be because the majority of teen phones are paid for by a parent, or are part of some sort of family plan, and the “sponsors” aren’t springing for expensive data however it also says a lot about what tools are really essential.
75% of all teens have a cell phone and 88% of this population is text messaging. Connecting with friends and family through texting and some voice is the primary use for having a cell phone, not checking websites or updating social media sites. Text messaging is where the real communication trend is and developing features like full keyboard phones are a way to monetize this craze.
Quick and convenient access to internet is simply a “nice to have” and smartphones are merely a tool of convenience. For real research and work people want full size screens with full size keyboards. This more traditional interface is where designers should be expending their efforts. Obviously sites that are hand held device friendly will get traffic but is still about getting information on the “go” not a cultural shift.