Depending on a brand’s geography, audience demographics and other behaviour patterns, mobile access to the company website has either outstripped access through the PC web browser or will soon.While most consumer-facing brands understand that mobile access to the company is imperative to business, the decision of which ‘mobile’ strategy to adopt remains a complex decision.
The options come down to this: creating a dedicated mobile website, making the existing website more mobile-friendly, developing a native mobile app, or a hybrid of any or all of the above.
Many consider the Boston Globe to be the poster child of responsive design, but that’s in part because the user of the website is there to read the newspaper. optimising that experience is all about making it easier to read the text, so a responsive website design that changes depending on the screen is ideal.
But not all websites serve the same purpose, and the first question to ask is what the mobile visitor wants to achieve and how can the experience be made easier and more engaging?
One clear scenario for a native app instead of a mobile-optimised website is banking, where customers frequently check their balance. The consumer is willing to invest in the download and the regular updates because they care about the security and access the information regularly. On the other hand, they won’t download an app for finding local branches, so having a mobile-optimised website also shapes the overall brand experience.
This task-focused approach isn’t just about mobile web versus native applications. For example, if you take a look at the Lexus website on your PC web browser, the experience is loaded with big rich media, multiple navigation options and a car configurator. View the same website on your smartphone browser and you see lighter graphical content and a pared down site navigation.
This pared down navigation is focused on what the mobile visitor might be trying to do – they are probably out car shopping or wanting to find somewhere to have the car serviced, so ‘Find a Dealer’ is prominently featured. It is important to remember that the experience is not just about responding to the screen size (like the Boston Globe), but responding to the task the user is trying to complete.
In addition to understanding the task, the visitor being on a mobile device gives us some context to that task. It is unlikely that a potential customer will want to do extensive product research, review detailed product information, terms and conditions (or as in the Lexus example; configure a new car).
Another example of task-focused mobile applications is the GoHow app, available at the Denver and Minneapolis airports. The app effectively uses the context of the visitor – they are travelling, they are in an airport, they are flying from a specific gate, etc. – to provide the user with a highly relevant mobile web experience focused on what they might be interested in doing, like finding something to eat.
Besides the task the visitor wants to perform and the context that mobile gives us, another consideration in your mobile strategy is whether the device capabilities will enhance the user experience. Will knowing where the visitor is, through a Smartphones GPS capability help you deliver more relevant content or would taking photos help with the task?
Insurers like Nationwide, Progressive and Geico all have iPhone apps to take pictures and report claims from the scene of the accident. This neatly packages the task (reporting an accident) in the context of standing by the roadside and uses the device capabilities to enhance the experience.
This is where the mobile customer experience can diverge from the PC web experience, where the mobile experience is more than just a subset of what the visitor can achieve on the website, but offers an extension to the overall customer experience.
When deciding on your mobile customer experience strategy, it’s important to remember to do more than just reproduce your PC web experience on the small screen. Mobile is not just a device, it is a delivery channel and you must ensure you deliver what your mobile visitors want to receive.
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