When you’re a techie, it’s hard not to gawk at the evolution of the smart phone and to think about the implications of a growing mobile internet.

Yet for average mobile phone users, the increasing number of features is leaving many ‘baffled‘.

This is according to a survey conducted by Mformation, which found that 61% of the mobile phone users it interviewed in the UK and United States were as challenged when setting up a new mobile phone as they would be moving their bank accounts.

A whopping 95% of the 4,000 people surveyed said that they’d be more likely to use more of the mobile services that are available to them if their mobile phones were easier to set up.

This highlights something that many of us techies often forget: a lot of the features and services we love aren’t exactly designed well for the average user.

But they should be. If the mobile internet, for instance, is ever going to grow into the powerhouse many have been predicting for years, features and services absolutely need to function for the average user.

Design matters whether you’re building a website or software for a mobile phone. Just as a poorly-designed website will inevitably lead to lost customers and lost opportunity, the same is true when it comes to the mobile phone.

Mformation found that 61% of the people it surveyed would stop using a mobile application if they couldn’t get it working the way they wanted to right away. And given that many Mformation’s Matthew Bancroft told the BBC that many users reported spending upwards of an hour setting up their mobile phones (when it should really only take 15 minutes), it’s obvious that handset manufacturers might have a real problem on their hands, especially as the sophistication of the features they build into new phones increases.

The good news is that industry players seem to know this. The BBC reports that they’re investing more in staff training and help desks and are working on developing standards that will hopefully make the user experience a bit more predictable. Additionally, the increased processing power handsets are achieving “could be used to anticipate what users were doing and help them find their way
around the handset.

But while we wait for all of these things to come to fruition, the situation highlights the importance of understanding who your customers are and designing your product for them. Clearly in a rush to create more advanced mobile phones, this has been forsaken to an extent.