Context Aware User Interface:

More than a trend, a reality soon to be a requirement.

computereyeI’m being watched and I like it!
Although there are many concerns about privacy and the merit of context aware computing, this article is not about ethics. Whether you like it or not, it’s simply a fact of life at this point (assuming you are participating) that data is being collected about you for market research.
But context aware UI isn’t about pitching you products you’re more inclined to buy, it’s about providing you with an optimal user experience. It’s about giving you what you want.

What is Context Aware UI?

Simply put, a context aware user interface is an interface that is able to identify features of the user’s environment and display or format data depending on that information. We see this technology every time we access a mobile version of a website on our phones; every time we turn our phone sideways and change the view from portrait to landscape.
I’m sure you are using at least one app that displays nearby restaurants, bars, or nightclubs. How does the software know which ones are nearby? It ‘knows’ its location…it is contextually aware.

Context Categories

Although many variations of categories have been theorized, context for UI is classically broken up into the different types:

  • Identity – Who is using the device?
  • Device – What device is being used?
  • Time – When is the device being used?
  • Location – Where is the device being used?
  • Activity – Why is the device being used?

There you have it – the new tech knows the ‘who, what, when, where, and why’.


Your Apps are now Stimulated!

Before you think Big Brother is watching you, remember, this is nothing that new. This technology has been around one way or another since the early 1990’s- even before that depending on how you would like to define the subject.

It’s really just a matter of a machine responding to outside stimulus- we just have a lotmore stimulus for a computer program to respond to these days!

With major advancements in GPS technology, mobile computing, information retrieval, and data storage, it’s not too difficult to conceive the vast amount of readily available information that your smartphone is privy to. The new software is able to tap into this information to provide you with a relevant and personalized user experience.

The Personalized User Experience

We already see marketing, software, and web design leaning on this technology to create more meaningful and engaging experiences for their users.

In fact, according to ‘The Realities of Online Personalization’:

Personalization is seen as vital for business performance: 94% of in-house marketers surveyed see personalization of the web experience as critical to current and future success.

The article continues to explain that even though companies see this technology as useful and necessary in the future, most don’t know exactly how to implement this tech into their web strategies. So if you’re a designer looking for a feather in your cap- this is something for you to look into!

Now Implement!

pwordEasier said than done, I know. But if you’re already making responsive sites then you’ve already started the process. If you’re comfortable with PHP or have experience with dynamic database driven websites then you’re doing even better.
One of the best ways to really deliver a personalized web experience for your customer is to have the option for a user log-in. In this way specialized content can be displayed based on the user’s history or preferences on the website.
An even more effective way to do this is to allow for social media sign-in which allows you access to some of the data that social networks have already collected on their users. This data can be used to implement effective personalized web experiences practically tailored to the individual.

Read up at and for some tips on how to make your website a bit more personalized for all of your targeted audiences.