UX means you win

Scott Smith, chief revenue officer at CloudApp, looks at the dos and don’ts of mobile UX in 2018.

We all know the rule: Mobile first. But even in 2018, years after the shift toward mobile UX began, executing a strong, responsive site or app is a struggle for many organizations.

According to a LogMeIn study, only 52 per cent of consumers were pleased with their latest mobile experience with a business. And even if an organization does have the resources to build an app or mobile site that a customer will trust, it faces heavy competition against the many other mobile tools the average consumer can turn to. According to AppAnnie, the average smartphone user has 80 apps on their device, but they only access half of them on a monthly basis.

Despite the challenges, the mobile experience remains more important than ever, and when a business decides to spring for mobile adaptability, it may as well go all in. For those starting out on their mobile experience-building journey, here are four tips to keep top of mind when trying to do it right.

Make login simple but secure
While a login screen may feel like the least of your concerns during development, it should not be discounted. The login screen can make or break a user’s future reliance on your platform, as they’re quick to abandon a site that gives way to the slightest bit of friction during login. Make sure the text boxes are large and clear, and make links for forgotten usernames or passwords stand out.

If you have the resources, consider offering the use of biometrics like fingerprint or facial recognition to authenticate a user’s identity through your mobile experience. According to Visa, 70 per cent of users find them easier to use than a username and password. Open Authorisation (“Login with Facebook” or “Login with Google”) is also a strong option, with 65 per cent of users preferring a third-party login over filling out a form, according to Blue-Research.

Prioritize functionality, but don’t cast off design
It may sound obvious, but your app needs to work natively. If it’s a photo-sharing app, make the photos easily accessible. If it’s a journaling app, make sure adding text is simple and that no pinching and swiping is needed on the part of the user. These things must come first over design – an app or mobile site may be beautifully designed, but no one will stick around if it doesn’t work.

That said, design is still important to users. So while functionality must come first if you want to build a working app, aesthetics are still a key next step. According to Adobe, 59 per cent of customers will choose to do business with a company over its competitors, based on good design.

Plan to invest significant resources in development
Tech giants like Facebook and Google come to mind as leaders in mobile UX. Facebook, for example, saw enormous growth once it embraced mobile capabilities and built an official app, which launched in 2010.

But these companies obviously have near-endless resources, and building mobile apps requires some very expensive skills sets, such as Objective-C or Swift programming abilities for an iOS app. These can be hard to come by thanks to the tech skills gap the industry is experiencing. Hiring a contract developer or UX designer for an app project can cost anywhere from $200 (£156) to $500 per hour. Hiring on the cheap is rarely worth it, at the risk of winding up with a shoddy end result, so any organization seeking to hone its mobile experience should be prepared for such costs.

Don’t forget to account for ongoing needs
Even after all the time and resources poured into creating a good app, the work isn’t over. Building and maintaining an app or site comes with a hefty requirement of ongoing maintenance to weed out bugs and keep up with operating system upgrades.

Many businesses forget to account for this aspect before diving in to develop their mobile experience, or they underestimate the resources it will require. In fact, a Kony study found that 41 per cent of business leaders managing app development within their organizations experienced higher-than-expected maintenance costs. Don’t let this need in your mobile development process sneak up on your team and budget.

With rising user expectations, it can feel as if building for the mobile experience has only gotten more complicated over the years, instead of getting simpler with evolved technology. Despite the great deal of skills, budget and resources a solid mobile experience requires, making the investment continues to be important as ever. Above all, anticipate what your ideal mobile users seek and expect from their encounter with your platform. Your stellar mobile experience may not come overnight, but with commitment to these values, it will in the long run.

This article first appeared in the September 2018 print edition of Mobile Marketing. You can read the whole issue here