On the second day of Social Media Week, we met with the speaker Özgürol Öztürk after the panel named “User Experience in Mobile Social Networks”. We received the ideas of Özgürol Hodja, who continues his academic career as a research assistant at the Faculty of Communication at Galatasaray University, on technological interfaces and ergonomics.
Kenan Bölükbaşı: You mentioned that the usability of the interface in the projects developed for mobile devices during the interview has not matured yet. Do you think that the ossified habits of the users may be a barrier to this?
Özgürol Öztürk: A very small percentage of users try to adapt to new technologies immediately and spread the product they find successful. But what needs to be done here is that the application developers take this into account when producing projects. A number of applications are developed within the framework of Apple’s application rules, but many design criteria for interaction are ignored.
K.B .: We can see the reaction of even the people who develop applications for these devices to any decision that may lead to monopolization by mobile device manufacturer companies in the world. How do you think we have the situation?
o.o .: When I look at the monopolization effort of large-scale technology companies as users, it is also a great danger. Because every device offers a different experience and it requires learning from scratch. For example, the fact that each company has a different keyboard type causes me troubles every time I switch devices, and I am also a F keyboard user. In this case, when switching devices, we usually have to choose a newer version of the same device. Their commercial concerns bother us as users.
K.B .: Let’s talk about your work related to age groups. The predominant target audience of most social media tools was young people. Recently, different age groups have been entering these platforms and are actively involved. Do you think that during this process, new users adapt themselves to the platforms or are the platforms adapted for new users?
o.o .: Actually, the adaptation must be bidirectional. At the panel, I discussed a very small part under the heading of user diversity and mentioned similar age groups. But the interface needs to change in order for the user to get the same experience as the age group changes. For example, if you are targeting the use of someone in the older age group, you should add functions such as automatic text magnification and reduction to your application. But I did not make this determination because my mother used it before I started using Facebook.
K.B .: I guess in general, the jargons that are ripe on these platforms are causing problems rather than the platform itself. Can we say that different age groups prefer to use the platform as they intended instead of using the same jargon?
o.o .: Of course. Actually, I cannot say that I am fully adapted. Is there a difference between the different smileys in the sense of laughter / smile written under a photo in terms of those who use them? I do not know. Designers don’t know this jargon either. That’s why we need these studies.
K.B .: It is seen that the user interfaces on mobile devices are still under development and the strategy of many companies is to adapt the features that their competitors find successful in their products. On the other hand, what do you think about the status and future of user interfaces in PC and laptop systems?
o.o .: Let’s start like this. Since these systems have developed in a way that I have never found right from the very beginning, the point it comes from is not the right one. From the moment Microsoft released its own products, it was obvious that we faced an ergonomics problem. When I said this many years ago, I got very serious reactions. Now everyone says the same. The current design is based on a “35-year-old white American man”. So it doesn’t cover me. It does not cover many people, but unfortunately this has been learned and it has become a culture. It cannot be said that it went much further than the graphical user interface created by Xerox in the 80s. The interfaces were decorated with various effects, but not too many steps were taken ergonomically. We can say that Apple is one step ahead with MacOS. It has an interface built on the structure built by Steve Jobs. I guess that these steps can be taken in the future even though there are no serious advances for now.
K.B .: As someone who uses both text-based and graphic interfaces frequently, I still find the text-based interface more advantageous in some cases. I’m sure there are many who think alike. Especially Linux users. Do you think such tools, which the majority find outdated, are worth researching again?
o.o .: Of course. Many vehicles are more ergonomic than the common alternatives for people who use them effectively. But these tools are relatively difficult to teach. Our biggest problem with Linux and Android is that it is very well used and recommended by the developers, but the situation is different for the end user. As developers, we need to persuade the end user or create alternatives that he can use. If you ask me, of course I support free software. But I can’t teach this to my mom. Perhaps there is a need for a differentiation not only in design, but also in the logical hierarchy.
K.B .: We talked about interfaces and especially the availability of mobile devices. So what do you think about the future of the interaction devices we are used to, such as the keyboard / mouse?
o.o .: I don’t know if there will be a change for the general audience. But basically ergonomically poorly designed usage habits have created a culture and have become design criteria. If you do not offer different things to users while changing their habits, innovations usually do not. Although one-handed keyboards and similar devices cannot find reflection in the general user, handicap groups became immediately acceptable by the disabled and their use increased. You have to wait a little and see.
K.B .: Let’s ask a question for Turkish entrepreneurs. Do you think entrepreneurs who want to enter the sector should start with small steps in their projects and focus on the local market first, or should they play big and target the global market?
o.o .: Local markets are not too small anymore. Very serious numbers were mentioned in the panel and the commercial expectations of the developers are very high. While listening, he pushed me to make calculations such as “If I make an application, I sell for $ 1, 1 million people download”. I don’t think there are too many local apps left anymore. Maybe we can talk about local practices due to language preferences, but other than that, there is not much of a distinction anymore. The main problem here is, of course, to respond to a need and to do it at the right time.
K.B .: Finally, is there anything you want to add?
o.o .: I can add something in response to the first question you ask. Project developers should pay attention to the following issue: We do not only use usability studies at the last stage through user experience and interface. These alone do not give enough correct results. If we do the usability tests starting from the idea stage of the project over and over again during the entire project process, we can get the results we want. I also want to add: Social media is not money, it also has a social side.