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The Role of Context

The most significant way in which mobile devices differ from fixed-location computers is that their usability is driven by a consideration of their multifaceted and changing context. Because these devices are by intent mobile, interaction on them is no longer solely a property of the device but rather is strongly related to the context of use. Therefore, when designing for usability on mobile handheld devices, we need to consider the usability constraints associated with the context of use. For example, the changing physical contexts for phone-Web devices suggest that displayed information should be visible under a range of lighting conditions, requiring designs for high-contrast foreground/background combinations.

There are several levels of context that impact the design of interaction for mobile communication and handheld Web devices. Infrastructure, application, location, and physical contexts all have unique usability implications.


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