Getting mobile right is only becoming more important. At the end of 2019, mobile usage accounted for 70% of digital media time, and that number continues to increase. Mobile is now the go-to way for customers to engage with your brand. But it’s an expensive investment you want to ensure pays off for your business, your customers, and your technology. These top takeaways from our mobile customer experience roundtable can help you get it right.
On May 28th, our own Carol Righi, human-centered design practice lead at 1904labs, led a discussion with two mobile experts: Morgan Noel, user experience consultant and Andrew “Doc” Bell, CTO at Takoda and Assistant Practice Lead at 1904labs.
Top Takeaways from the Roundtable
Here are some of the questions asked and key takeaways from our speakers. You can also watch the full replay
Think about some of the best mobile solutions you have seen, used, or helped design and develop. What makes a great mobile experience?
Success depends on the context and what the focus is with the customer, said Morgan. On the technology side, “You have to think about the UX experience in an entirely different way than web," said Doc. "On mobile, what is most important is having a consistent design to reduce confusion about how your technology works and achieve the quickest way possible to complete a task with the fewest taps possible.”
Thinking about some of the most successful mobile apps you have worked on. What about the process by which they were created made them successful? What went right?
For process, both Morgan and Doc talked about how critical it is to get everyone in the room as early as possible. This helps answer questions early and ensure boxes are checked across the business, your customers, and technology concerns.
From an engineering perspective, the earlier technologists are part of the discussion about mobile needs, the better they can understand the business goals. Then those technologists can develop to solve the right problem.
On the flip side, thinking about some of the least successful mobile apps you have worked on. What about the process by which they were created made them unsuccessful? What went wrong?
Doc spoke about how frequent customer feedback is key to success. As an example, he said, “Business development is told the app needs a feature during the sales process. Then development spends a lot of time to get that feature out quickly. But in the end, it’s not a feature that business development can sell. We weren’t keeping users and stakeholders involved through regular check-ins, and ultimately it was a feature they didn’t want.”
Agreeing, Morgan spoke about when development or users weren’t involved early enough. Without frequent and early communication, the mobile development process could not succeed.
At 1904 labs, we describe our approach to mobile as a three-legged stool focusing on the business, the customer, and the technology to ensure the mobile experience conveys your brand, addresses business requirements, is easy to use and useful, and is solid technically. How do you balance those three areas - the business, the customer, the technology - in your mobile planning and design?
Many times there are tradeoffs. The user wants something that isn’t technically feasible - or the business wants something that conflicts with what the user wants. It can be challenging to balance the desires and constraints of the business, the customer, and the technology.
For balancing customer wants, testing is key, says Morgan. First, you have to think through where your customers are to balance those pieces, because their interaction points inform the technology choices and show you the path to meet the business goals.
From a technology perspective, Doc says it’s important your engineers have empathy and a strong understanding of the customers and business needs they’re developing for. Then they can make informed decisions about the technology tradeoffs. Come to your engineers with the needs for the mobile program. ”If you come to engineers and say ‘I need an iOS app,’ they’re going to build you an iOS app”, says Doc. “But if you say ‘I need a way for our users to be connected from their phones and I’d like to get it up as soon as possible to start testing,’ they’ll come to you with alternatives and help you decide on the right choice.”
Let’s address something that’s on all of our minds: the current pandemic crisis, that has changed so much about how we behave at home and at work. What role do you see mobile playing during and after this crisis?
Morgan thinks mobile will expand to other devices beyond just phones. As more people work outside the office, tablets and lightweight netbook laptops will be more popular. Features that were optional before will not be a necessity. “Seeing people, seeing their faces, will be the new business standard for apps,” said Morgan. “Video will be a huge driver for mobile.”
Having streamlined processes and automation will be critical from a technology standpoint. “The new reality is that we have to be even more responsive to change,” says Doc. Features can’t take months, and you have to be able to pivot quickly in response to the market.
If you had to advise a company just dipping its toe into mobile, what advice would you give them? What should they do first? Where should they invest their resources? Who should they bring on board?
For Morgan, he had three key things for companies to think about: who is your audience? What’s the core thing you want your customer to do over mobile? What can you build without creating from scratch through pre-built tools and integrations?
For Doc, there’s a lot of mobile developers out there, but picking the right ones are most important. You don’t necessarily need an expert in everything, but somebody that can be flexible and knows how to use the different strengths in the tools available. DevOps is also an important component, so having someone who can understand the unique DevOps needs for mobile.
If you'd like to see the full discussion, watch the full replay. Also read our earlier posts in this series, Why Now Is the Time to Focus on Mobile and How to Build a Successful Mobile Customer Experience.