In an attempt to maintain relevance in an increasingly mobile environment, businesses have sometimes taken hasty decisions in order to stake their claim. The prevailing opinion of a number of businesses is that all you need to do to engage the UK’s 30 million+ smartphone users is sign up one of the myriad app developers listed on Google to throw one together and get it out there – job done.
Of course, it’s nowhere near that simple. As is so often the case with disruptive technology, jumping on the nearest bandwagon without having a good look at why and how you’re doing it is a sure fire way to get the worst of both worlds – a mobile presence which does nothing for the customer and brings no benefits to the company.
Mobile development and user experience is an exciting and inspiring area for innovation which has the power to change the way we work forever. Businesses are in an ideal position to benefit from this and develop a full mobile experience which encompasses:
- mobile websites
- commerce platforms
- responsive/adaptive design
- BYOD and staff empowerment
– All of which can integrate seamlessly with their legacy systems and existing platforms.
The alpha and omega of mobile UX development
Mobile starts and ends with the user. These are the key steps for making sure they are central to every mobile strategy:
- Start from the bottom and build upwards. Begin with user experience and take it from there. While design is important, it isn’t user experience. Swapping to flat icons and more stark typography might keep up with the design trends of the time, but unless businesses deliver the right experience beyond that, at best it won’t have any effect on user experience, and at worst it will damage their brand because it relies on style over substance.
- Ensure the mobile strategy is task-based and gives users what they need to achieve their goals. From this base, businesses can go on to use cutting-edge mobile-enabled technology to make intelligent use of the data they gather to create surprising, memorable and personalised outcomes.
- Develop unique, device-specific features which provide a ‘joined up’ experience - one which enhances the user journey on and offline. It’s a mistake to see mobile real estate as ‘mini PC’ – especially with home pcs looking to soon become a thing of the past. Mobile first is the way to make it work for the user, who is more likely to be accessing content on a tablet or smartphone, whether they’re on the move or on the couch.
- Design for users’ needs, not marketing ‘wants’. Mobile UX needs to be fast and functional. Many times I have seen brands impact customer perception and even sales via mobile devices because their marketing teams are too focused on delivering desktop and offline marketing strategies via their mobile user experience.
Know your aims
One of the biggest mistakes businesses make in developing a mobile strategy is to enter into the project with no idea of what they want to accomplish. And if the business has no idea of what they’re doing, how can you expect the user to know?
- Work out the destination before starting to draw the map; is it increased sales? The ability to offer instant advice or appointments? The monitoring of personal data and user activity? The answers to these questions will inform the direction of the strategy and KPIs/deliverables
- Don’t over-promise; do deliver. A simple user-focused experience which brings together all business channels in a seamless way, intuitively mapped, will keep users satisfied
- Keep it clean, keep it clear - don’t try to be jack of all trades, or risk ending up as master of none. A business selling women’s fashion, for example, should not make their mobile experience sell financial services as well – it increases complexity and muddies the waters for customers who just want to shop for clothes.
The bottom line
The ubiquity of mobile technology means that user expectations have never been higher, and businesses need to recognise that seamless cross-channel journeys, with the customer at heart and mobile as the thread which brings them all together, are essential to the success of their business. That means taking immediate steps to develop a comprehensive, strategic approach to mobile technology – and apps are just one small part of the overall picture.