Posted by Eddie Guevarra on 19 Jun, 2017
In mid-May, Future Platforms launched its Spotlight Series, an ongoing programme of breakfast talks, webinars and roundtable discussions focused on best-practice digital strategy and user experience, as well as emerging technology trends.
The programme kicked off with a breakfast talk at The Shard, led by our Managing Director, Adam Croxen and acclaimed business psychologist, Dr Simon Hampton. The event welcomed a wide range of senior and C-suite professionals to learn about the principles, practices and psychology behind successful mobile experiences.
Dr Hampton discussed the psychological aspect of consumers’ interactions with mobile, and how it affects mobile strategy and user experience, while Adam shared his seven proven practices for creating successful mobile experiences. In this post, we’ve outlined those practices and indicated why they are crucial to better creating digital solutions.
#1 – Know your users
We believe that knowing and understanding your users is the single-most important factor in creating a successful mobile experiences. Solutions must always make sense from a business perspective, but ultimately if your product doesn’t improve a process or make things easier for those using it, it’s unlikely to succeed in the long-run. Get to know the preferences, pain-points and needs of those who’ll be using your product, and provide a solution that addresses them.
#2 – Start cheap
It’s been our experience that multi-million pound digital products don’t necessarily require large initial investments. While a well-made mobile product requires some level of financial commitment, too many companies attempt to build large, all-encompassing solutions from the very beginning; driving up cost and time to completion while spreading focus too thinly.
By starting with a smaller product that has fewer features, and iterating as you gather user feedback, you can get a product to market more quickly, more affordably, and with a higher rate of success. We use this strategy with many of our clients, and our own ticket exchange platform, Twickets, has gone from a Future Platforms side project to a standalone start-up valued at £11m, with more than half a million UK users.
#3 – Develop a growth mindset
Developing a growth mindset is based around thinking we’ve seen from Dr. Carol Dweck, as well as in Matthew Syed’s Black Box Thinking, and focuses on the concept of not fearing failure. In order to be successful in mobile and digital, it is inevitable that you will experience challenges and setbacks. Having a growth mindset means that you accept this, do not fear failure, and instead grow as a result of your experiences and use them to create better products in the future.
A big part of this is also not just thinking about the product today, but also how it might grow and develop over the next month and next year. By starting small you’ll inherently be able to do this, and can adapt to changes in the market or shifting user demands. Far too many companies release a mobile product to great fanfare and never again give it attention or try to grow it, a strategy that is simply not compatible with success on the platform; you’ve got to be in it for the long run.
#4 – Steal
While this one might seem counterintuitive, learning (and borrowing) from competitors has been at the very core of successful mobile strategies for decades. Just like the iPhone wasn’t the first smartphone, nor the iPad the first tablet, your mobile product doesn’t have to be the first to do something to do it best.
On mobile, if a feature is outstanding then there’s a high chance that people will expect to be able to use it within other experiences. The most pertinent recent example is Instagram’s introduction of Snapchat-style stories, which despite being launched three years later now has more monthly active users than Snapchat itself.
#5 – Collect data
Regardless of what field your business is in, or whether the mobile product is designed to collect data, data and insights gleaned from your product will help you and your customers. For a business, collecting user feedback, competitor research, average session time, monthly active users, preferred button configurations, or design and user experience opinions, data is the key to building and maintaining a successful mobile product.
From a technological perspective, collecting data is also highly beneficial when it comes to artificial intelligence, at a time when we’re moving from a mobile-first world to an AI-first one. It is no longer enough to have a passive mobile solution that requires heavy user interaction to be useful, so making use of data-backed AI is the key to a more successful digital product. Devices and solutions that can learn about users’ habits and patterns, and automatically initiate services and products at the most opportune moment, are the ones that will become the most valuable as we move forwards.
Data allows you to understand your users, establish clarity over project goals and objectives, and back up business-critical decisions with tangible information. Coupled with the power of AI, it allows you to preemptively meet your customers’ needs, and have your products adapt to their behaviour over time. Our next breakfast talk in September will look at AI and the impact it can have on the user experience, so if you’d like to learn more about this, keep an eye out for more details.
#6 – Be open to technological changes
The digital landscape is always shifting and changing. New devices, screen sizes, and OS tweaks arrive on a regular basis, but there is now a more decided shift. For years we have seen features added to smartphones, but are now witnessing the unbundling of features; where voice and messaging commands are capable of triggering actions, and interactions are moving out of smartphone apps and onto the wrist, headphones, spectacles or connected speakers.
It means that as a business, you must be open and ready to react to changes in the technological market. What’s perfect now may be obsolete in a year, so it’s crucial to have a digital roadmap that is flexible enough to embrace new developments. Doing so will not only make changes, updates and transitions easier, but also give you the chance to get ahead of competitors who might not be as prepared.
#7 – Be human
Related in some ways to our first and most important point – knowing your users – you must remember that we are all humans that feel and experience a wide range of emotions. When designing a new product or strategy, always consider the human impact of your product and factors that might affect it.
Voice solutions such as Google Assistant, Amazon Echo, and Apple’s Siri are increasingly taking on a human persona that allows users to interact with their technology in ways that are comfortable and relatable. In general, whether it’s UX considerations such as colour scheme and button placement, or your product’s tone of voice, sense of humour, or cultural sensitivity, these things make an enormous difference to the perception of your product and your business, just as much as the technical or functional elements of your solution.
With over 20 years’ experience in the mobile and digital world, we firmly believe that these seven practices will place you well on your way to creating more successful and effective mobile experiences that meet business needs and engage customers. We’re always looking to improve and develop our strategy though, so if you think we’ve missed one, we’d love to hear from you.
And, if you’re excited by the possibilities of mobile and digital, are looking to build your next product, or simply seeking guidance on the development of a digital roadmap, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us through email@example.com.
Our next complimentary Spotlight Series event will cover the subject of Artificial Intelligence and its impact on User Experience. To register your interest, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
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