Thoughts on Nielsen's "Transmedia User Experiences"

I appreciate that usability specialist Jakob Nielsen is reminding an otherwise mobile-centric audience of digital producers that mobile devices will not exterminate personal computers. 

Here are four critical points Nielsen makes on transmedia experiences (or, brand experiences that occur on multiple devices) 

  1. Inexpensive pricing allows many individuals to own more than one computer, and "the best computer is the one you have with you when you want something done." As such, these devices may inherit their own place in each person's day-to-day work.
  2. Doing large work on small screens is infuriating. And while mobile devices are offering alternative methods for larger displays (i.e. HDMI input ports, on-board projectors, etc.), the mobile device's natural screen is rarely a viable option for advanced tasks.
  3. In designing transmedia experiences, Nielsen suggests (a) creating "separate and distinct user interfaces" that are "sufficiently different"; (b) "Retain the feel of the product family across devices" with a "transmedia design strategy."
  4. Transmedia design strategies should include "visual continuity," "feature continuity," "data continuity" ("data should be the same across all locations") and "content continuity."

I agree with Nielsen's points, and I encourage two additional concepts.


  • If you are a brand manager, be the "EPA." Don't design an experience in a new environment unless you have good reason to believe that you are accommodating your user.
  • TUBA Methods (Atvur, 2011) stands for "Transmedia User Behavior Analysis" Methods. When investigating these experiences, do not investigate them exclusively from each other. Instead, consider the "interaction" that occurs from moving from one interaction to another.