Asim Zaheer, Chief Marketing Officer, Glassbox takes a look at the steps you need to follow to make your app work better than anything on the desktop
The future of digital is mobile. As the number of mobile users continues to rise and surpass desktop usage, consumers’ need for seamless mobile interactions heightens. 90% of mobile internet time is spent in apps. 15 billion unique mobile users were responsible for a whopping 35 billion app downloads in 2020 alone. Understanding this, many businesses are embracing a mobile-first approach to digital strategy, prioritizing their mobile capabilities and experience over desktop.
A successful mobile-first strategy hinges on an app that stands out and provides an amazing customer experience. The distinctive features of mobile such as built-in camera and GPS services allow businesses to interact and communicate with consumers in methods unavailable to desktop users. Designing and developing with a mobile-first strategy lead to better conversion rates, simplified code minimizing potential glitches and better user experience (UX).
The following steps can guide business leaders as they work to design a new app—or update an existing app—to perform better than its desktop counterpart.
Prepare for Complexity
Mobile apps come with unique challenges different from desktop, which makes the development process more complex. Challenges include:
- Device variations and compatibility:
Designing for different screen sizes and operating systems across multiple devices must be executed flawlessly to guarantee the best mobile experience. Apple and Android require varying development processes. Brands must also pay close attention to resolution and size to enable the best translation of their app across all devices.
- Mobile network considerations:
Data speeds and networks can throw a wrench in the mobile app experience. Given mobile users are always on the go and network connectivity cannot be guaranteed, app developers must enable their apps to withstand poor network connection through bandwidth optimization. Optimized graphic designs and a user interface (UI) that avoids slow upload speeds of text, pictures and animations must be incorporated.
- Global markets:
Businesses should discern which international markets are best suited for their app. To ensure a global market app launch is successful, businesses must work to embody the local culture, customizing the tone, style and look as well as ensuring precise language translation.
Choose your mobile strategy
To select a mobile strategy, one must understand the purpose of the app and the difference between the available options:
- Native mobile apps are applications for mobile devices built with the native language of chosen platforms. These apps are known for their stability, fast performance, experience and security, but due to development time and other varying factors, they can be more complex to manage.
- Hybrid mobile apps, on the other hand, are created to be compatible on all platforms meaning less time and money towards cross-platform development. While easier and cheaper to maintain, performance may slow down with more complex functionalities.
- Progressive web apps (PWA) can send notifications, utilize the camera and location services through the behavioral simulation of native mobile apps. PWAs are typically a solid choice for dynamic ecommerce solutions as they can be accessed via web browser and installed on a device. Though PWAs have the benefits of consistency and cutting the need for the app store, the app’s performance is dependent on the browser capability and has less support on iOS.
Design—or redesign—based on goals and audience
To effectively create a mobile-first strategy that trumps the desktop experience, businesses must first determine goals around speed, app performance and customer engagement.
Are you looking to increase conversion rates, streamline the sales process, market to broader audiences or to ease communication? Intentionally design your app to help you achieve your business goals.
Most importantly, designs should be tailored to a business’s audience. The audience’s demographics, location and expectations should inform each design decision. By designing a simple and functional app, a brand can accelerate customer adoption.
Consider how the mobile app design can be leveraged to improve business outcomes in other areas, including sales and marketing. Throughout the design process, test all app features, especially those that will be used to encourage app adoption, to eliminate customer frustration after the app is released.
For example, in 2021, a popular North American fashion brand with annual revenues totaling $1 billion sought to increase revenue through a mobile app adoption strategy. The brand distributed vouchers with discount promo codes to be used in its mobile app. Over time, they noticed a gap between distributed vouchers and redemptions. Upon investigation, they found that due to a programming error, the promo code was invalid, which increased abandonment rates by 30%.
Had the brand not caught and resolved the issue early, it would have lost out on significant potential revenue. This reiterates the importance of making sure the app design supports business goals and engagement strategies.
Beware mobile app traps
A huge mistake developers make is attempting to mirror the website. This tactic defeats the purpose of going mobile-first and leads to a subpar performance for customers. Additional common mistakes include cramming too many things into an app and prioritizing downloads over user experience.
Research and test
Even if a business has a well of experience, they should never assume to know what users want or what will work. Successful mobile apps always incorporate user testing in a beta format before widespread public introduction of an app or new features. This provides a clear view of what users want. A/B testing formats, views and features will also help brands and businesses understand user preferences.
Continuously improve customer experience through app analytics
Once a well rounded app has been developed, it is important to keep iterating and continuously improving the app to maintain a stand-out mobile experience.
To make sure that all user struggles and points of friction are addressed, eliminating issues before they impact revenue, businesses should explore Digital Experience Intelligence (DXI). Using AI and machine learning, DXI takes digital experience analytics to the next level, analyzing massive amounts of data holistically to provide actionable insights that businesses can use to optimize the customer experience across digital channels.
For example, an international chain of warehouse clubs owned and operated by one of the largest retailers in the world hosts millions of online shoppers through their website and native mobile app. When complaints of login issues began to rise the company’s most valued customers, its mobile app users, were heavily impacted. As a result, in-app conversion rates dropped. The company utilized DXI to quickly resolve the issues, improving mobile customer experience and saving the company $1 million in at-risk revenue.
The future is mobile
In today’s competitive market, it’s essential to have an engaging app that provides a valuable, frictionless experience. Mobile users are a different breed as they tend to be on the go with varying network connection compared to desktop users. No matter where mobile users access an app, they expect an easy, quick experience. A well-executed, personalized app experience will help build brand loyalty to create the ultimate customer experience advantage.
If ever there was a time to develop a mobile-first strategy, it is now.
Asim Zaheer is the Chief Marketing Officer of Glassbox