Are you making these mobile experience mistakes?
With 90% of our mobile internet time spent on mobile apps, mobile apps are now getting the same attention as desktop websites as a customer experience channel. However, most digital leaders agree that providing a frictionless mobile experience is more challenging than web, with more operating systems, devices and a five-inch screen to take into account. Mobile app owners are always looking for ways to keep their apps as the “go-to” for their customers.
I sat down with some mobile app experts for a panel session called Avoiding Mobile Experience Traps at Glassbox DigitalWorld. Here are some of the big takeaways.
Mobile experience trap #1: Making your app do too much
Your mobile app should have the same user experience as the desktop. It’s a delicate balance of content, navigation and other functionality across devices and comes down to what your customers’ goals are on each platform. What you don’t want is users experiencing choice paralysis and a cluttered screen.
Sally Mok, GM of eCommerce and Distribution at HK Express, pointed out that it’s about how different elements are optimized—from content to layout to overall interaction to make the mobile journey delightful. What do you want users accomplish on each digital channel? Is certain functionality needed on your mobile app or would it fit better on web? Using mobile to shop, for instance, users want a quick, seamless experience, so loading perceived speed matters to the customer, and the focus should be on that. Using her outdoor app as an example, Michelle Cutler, Lead Product Manager at Ordnance Survey, said some features are on the app only, while maps, for instance, are also supported by the web because it’s easier to plot routes on the larger screen.
Mobile experience trap #2: Assuming you know what the customer wants
It’s common knowledge that UX testing, beta testing and A/B testing are crucial elements to measure and test mobile products. At the same time, making assumptions about behaviors and actions can trip up perceptions and result in flawed decision-making about your market Spending a lot of time with customers can also lend itself to the trap of assuming how they’ll react.
As Cutler put it, “Users will always find a way to surprise you in the way that they’re using what you’ve put out there.” She added that sometimes research will reveal new ideas and insights that were blind spots building when the app.
Also, consider localization; this can be overlooked and the culture and expectations are different. Another area to be wary of: test conditions, because they don’t always reflect real-world usage. As Aditya Navin, Product Manager at RoosterMoney, pointed out, he gives more weight to the beta testing because people at home tend to use the app the way it was intended. With the pandemic and the shift to virtual meeting platforms like Zoom, it’s been much easier to access. Ultimately, UX research is balanced with real-world usage data and ongoing mobile app experience analytics.
Mobile experience trap #3: Choosing the wrong development method
Should your app be native, hybrid or a progressive web app? This can be a tough decision for some companies, but frequently, it’s a tradeoff between cost and performance. “When it comes to experience and performance, native is vastly superior. You get much faster interactions and animations and transitions and all of these things,” Cutler said, adding that leveraging the platforms and UX are powerful differentiators. But along with greater performance and better user experience comes cost, requiring specific languages, hiring developers for different OS systems, and other expenses.
Navin thinks there are distinct advantages of going hybrid, allowing a mobile-first app approach, but leaning on the website as a standalone for support and sharing the same developers between the products. “The developer who’s also working the website can work on the hybrid app, because the same codebase and language is being used and can transition between the two fluidly.” In general, companies should balance whether native or other development methods are more relevant for their business model.