Connecting to Consumers with Mobile First Design

A great summary and guidance is provided on this podcast that is available online from a16z. It reminds me of the calls and conversations I have helping others in their mobile movements on what is right, what is relevant and then what is reality based on their teams, talent, and technology. The “mobile first” mentality has been present for some time, and especially in the more digitally advanced economies, such as China and other emerging markets. A few highlights I wanted to call out are noted below:

· They mention how “design is always relevant in retrospect” is perfect. There is a great deal of development and detail that goes into the building of the app and understanding what is intuitive on the audience that will use your mobile app or experience. The case of the design of the websites and mobile apps that are denser in markets in China, it might be logical and understood by the users there in the markets. They mention that good user experience in China is where the consumers can figure it out without having to find the instructions. That clearly differs from other markets where documentation and support are assumed.

· Many companies in the US have still moved to create separate apps for different functions and utilizations such as payments versus messaging. (examples include: Facebook/Facebook Messenger to Uber / Uber Eats). There is the benefit of having them all bundled together to have convenience for the user, less friction and information in there integrated, but now in the unbundled world that some of the major companies have in the US, they have developed standalone apps.

· The logic of why a decision is made and applied by the Snapchat, WeChat, Facebook and others is not always clear to the outside. Therefore the direction that we often have seen used by other companies and organizations to do something simply because one of these leaders did so is not always the right move. You clearly must trial and test this with your user base and follow the analytics for answers to make the correct decision for your business and brand. The same issue and boundary are in the utilization of voice, swiping our hands and more to command instructions for inputs. Will it always work? Predictive and Intuitive is great when it works. You want to be able to specify intent for each thing, and each user and person is different. Consumers and norms will vary by countries and cultures always.

The norms in a business environment from a scrappy startup to an established business and or regulated discussion vary significantly! There are rules and regulations of course from technology and engineering to the inputs and expectations from regulators and legal in the business – regardless of the company size. It is finding the right mix and customer satisfaction that demonstrates success. From my experiences in both environments, smaller startups tend to do that faster and easier than established organizations based on lack of limitations and lanes that they must swim in. Only the end user knows what works and the metrics are what matter for the business and brand to analyze for success.

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