Oct 5, 2015
We’re constantly told that we “need to have a mobile app” and that it’s “more important than ever.” It’s a fair point. These days, almost 50% of traffic comes from mobile. If you’re not taking advantage of it and developing a clear mobile strategy, you’re creating an opportunity for competitors to swoop in and steal your customers.
The problem is, while everyone touts how important a mobile strategy is, few of them actually tell you what makes an app useful to mobile audiences. Articles like 7 Musts to Maximize Your Company’s Mobile Strategy get thousands of shares, but give generic advice such as “design great experiences” or “use application programming interfaces” that fail to address the fundamental reasons that most apps are unsuccessful.
The biggest and most common pitfall that web companies make is assuming that the web strategies that brought them success can simply be adapted to mobile. This oversight fails to account for the key differences between web and mobile users that are crucial to success.
If we want to learn how to make an amazing mobile app, we first have to understand how mobile users are fundamentally different. There are 2 key differences between web and mobile users that force us to rethink our entire strategy.
Mobile users are often on the go and expect apps to help them accomplish tasks. Unlike on web, mobile users aren’t looking to explore or find out more about your brand. They use mobile apps to enable them to complete a task quickly, whether that’s finding out specific information, purchasing goods or services, finding a distraction, or accomplishing a goal.
What many teams have done is to try and add all the great features they have on web into their mobile app. Unfortunately, this actually makes it more difficult for users to achieve their goals with a cluttered UI and a slower experience.
In today’s day and age, there are a whole host of distractions that can cause mobile users to disengage. Unlike web, mobile users are more much prone to distractions. Web users are typically settled into a workspace, where they’re less likely to get interrupted. Mobile users on the other hand are often out and about on their feet or between tasks, greatly increasing the likelihood that they’ll be interrupted by any number of distractions and drop off.
That’s why mobile apps not only need to help users accomplish a task, they also have to allow users to do it quickly, with as few clicks, taps, and steps as possible. Otherwise, they’re likely to be interrupted or distracted during the process
If you look among the top apps in the app store, you’ll note that they all do a great job of satisfying 1 or 2 core user values. These features are prominently displayed in an easily accessible area of an app, without users having to go looking for them in a menu or sidebar. By optimizing their apps to help users accomplish their tasks quickly, they delight users with their ease of use.
Let’s take a look at a company that’s been very successful with both their web and mobile strategies: Starbucks.
On their website, Starbucks encourages users to explore their brand as much as possible. Users can read about their coffee, the menu, social causes, join the loyalty program, and make purchases online. Their goal is to educate users and provide a wide range of actions that a user can take.
On mobile, the Starbucks app is all about speed and efficiency. The entire focus of the app is to allow users to easily purchase drinks from a store. There are only a few key options for users available on the app: pay and manage gift cards, locate a nearby store, and see the menu.
This shift in strategy is crucial to the success of Starbucks’ mobile app. Instead of stuffing all their web features into a mobile app, the team instead focused on gathering data from their users and harnessing it to create an app that serves their customers’ needs perfectly.
Delivering value to your mobile users is all about using data to understand your users and how mobile fits into your overarching strategy. Last week, we hosted a webinar about how to create a winning mobile strategy using data across all devices and touchpoints. To check it out and learn how to get the most out of your mobile app, click on the link below.
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