The CX of a Great Mobile Experience
By Wendy Eichenbaum
Several years ago I went to a chain shoe store with a friend. We were shopping for sport sandals for an upcoming trip. He had a half dozen options. I had one. I tried it on and it fit. But I balked at the price because I wasn’t sure that I’d need these shoes after the trip. As I waited for him to review his selections, I scanned the bar code on the shoebox. I found an online retailer that had these same shoes for half the price. My trip was weeks away, not tomorrow. So I completed the purchase as I sat on the couch waiting for my friend.
This experience highlights the 3 core benefits necessary for a great mobile experience: immediacy, simplicity, and context. Without all three, your mobile app will feel like a stool with just two legs, wobbly or broken. These benefits were identified by Julie Äsk, a Vice President at Forrester Research.
Immediacy addresses the time component. Users are busy with one task. They realize that they need to perform or learn something before they can return to that task. They need to do it now, not an hour later when they get home. Perhaps a woman is on her way to a birthday party, and is not sure which gift to buy. She takes out her phone and reads reviews for the few items that caught her eye.
Context addresses the content component. Users don’t need all of the information or features about that product, service, or task. They only need the one bit that will enable them to complete the task. Let’s say that a user is on the way to dinner. He wants to stop at an ATM to get money. He does not need to check his bank account balance or stock portfolio. So when he opens the banking app, the app should display a list of top tasks on the home page. The user can select “Find an ATM” and view information only for that task.
Simplicity addresses the task flow. A great experience minimizes the number of steps to complete the task. This applies to our “Find an ATM” task. ATM locations are public information. Users should not be required to sign into the app just to find a location. Reserve the sign-in process for private information. Also, it’s likely that he wants to find an ATM on the way to the destination. Don’t require him to type in an address. Let him select the “Nearby” button to see a list of locations on a map. He can easily drag the map with his finger to view areas on the way to the destination.
However, simplicity does not mean that the UI should clutter the screen to reduce the number of steps to access to the content. Options should be task based, allowing users to make intuitive choices as they navigate to the desired information. Don’t put the stock portfolio on the same screen as the bank account history. While both pieces of information describe a person’s wealth, users rarely want this information at the same time, especially while on the go.
A great mobile experience enables users to access only the information they want, when they want it, and in an efficient and intuitive manner. If the solution is more difficult than the problem, users will find some other way, or company, to complete the task.
About the Author
Wendy Eichenbaum has been a UX professional since the early-1990’s. She began her career as a technical writer. She then earned a Master of Arts in Professional Writing at Carnegie Mellon University, studying both writing and UI design. Over the years, she has worked across verticals, from start-ups to multi-national firms, in many areas of UX including research & strategy, Information Architecture, usability testing, and focus groups. She started her own UX consulting firm in 2008, Ucentric Design. And she is an adjunct professor at Cal State University, Fullerton. There she teaches a class that she created, User-Centered Design for Web and Mobile Interfaces.