Could it be time to change your mobile app’s strategy, design, or technology? Here are five signs.
Blog two of a series.
In a previous post, we explored some best practices for breathing new life into your organization’s mobile app.
As we begin the new year, now is a good time to take a harder look at your portfolio of mobile websites and apps to assess the need for changes in strategy, design or technology.
But how will you know whether apps or websites in your digital portfolio are obsolete or in need of customer experience improvements?
The good news is you don’t need an army of consultants, designers or technology experts to tell you that your organization’s app or website is obsolete.
Here are five best practices that our Digital team uses to evaluate mobile apps.
Lack of Killer Feature or “Wow” Factor
It is increasingly important to offer a compelling set of features that users love, and keeps them coming back to your app. It is also becoming more difficult to get noticed in today’s crowded mobile landscape, and having a killer feature that makes your app stand out from the crowd is imperative.
You have probably spent lots of time building your app, and have insider knowledge of the most useful features. Use this knowledge to your benefit as you craft your app’s unique selling point. Consider the following:
- Commerce – enable customers to buy or sell products and services from your app
- Operations – enable users to improve the speed and tempo of work flow tasks or data collection, which increases worker productivity
- Marketing – improve customer engagement with timely or location sensitive, personalized information that promotes your organization’s products, services or ideas
It can also be useful to read positive and negative feedback from customer reviews in the app store. This includes customer reviews for your company-branded app as well as third-party apps from competitors and vendors in your industry.
This raw feedback can serve as an unbiased, “outside-in” perspective for understanding how customers, business partners, employees or other target users experience the highs and lows of different features and usage scenarios.
UX / UI Design is Outdated
Unlike websites, today’s most prevalent mobile operating systems from Apple and Google introduce new navigation patterns and controls, user authentication methods, sensor interface protocols and end-to-end design changes on an annual basis.
Mobile operating systems such as Apple iOS have significantly changed their screen designs over the years.
If your mobile app fails to keep pace with these operating system updates, the result will be lower customer engagement and users will begin looking for more modern alternatives. This is where a well-defined, repeatable design process helps ensure your mobile app remains relevant.
For example, the latest version of Apple iOS 10 includes a number of UX/UI design changes and system features that users love: Notification Center, Touch ID Login and In-App Purchases.
Lack of Personalized Experience (Powered by Digital Analytics)
People have a tendency to adopt and use services and products that are most convenient. In an increasingly digital world, this translates to services that offer instant gratification and simplicity through a highly personalized experience. The ability of mobile websites and apps to deliver these highly personalized experiences has evolved with technology advances in smart phone hardware and software.
Delivering these personalized experiences requires your mobile app or website to:
- deliver the right information
- at the right time
- to the right place
- to the right person
Given the complexity of the mobile landscape, small screens and a multitude of form factors, including the delivery of personalized experiences is a big challenge. So how do you do this?
By using digital analytics.
Digital analytics provide near-real-time, tactical insights into how users interact with your app as well as predictive algorithms which anticipate what users are going to do next.
Using digital analytics as an instrumentation panel for personalizing the user experience is important for several reasons, including to:
- Understand how people are using the app – from the most popular to the least popular screens, features and functions.
- Improve the customer experience by offering more relevant content.
- Remove the need to manually type or input information.
- Identify touch points and moments of truth where users abandon the app.
- Enrich the customer experience from one-dimensional to multi-dimensional.
Low Frequency of Bug Fixes and New Features
Successful digital teams embrace iterative and incremental product development methodologies such as Agile Scrum. This agility is embraced throughout the product development life-cycle, which helps to:
- Address customer reviews in the app store
- Design entirely new mobile-first experiences
- Engineer back-end systems and processes
- Analyze usage data and personalization improvements
The end result is higher frequency and higher quality updates, bug fixes and new features released to the market.
If you’re not investing in bug fixes and new feature updates every 45 to 60 days, that’s a leading indicator that your mobile app is trending toward obsolescence.
Back-End Infrastructure (Still) Cannot Support Unique Demands of Mobile
The inability to engineer your back-office systems and processes to support the unique demands of mobile-first usage scenarios is often indicative that your mobile strategy is in need of a reboot.
A good rule of thumb is to expect to spend 20% of your mobile budget designing the user experience, and the remaining 80% on engineering your organization’s back-office systems, business processes and analytics.
Higher performing mobile apps and websites embrace four-tier architecture patterns, micro web services, continuous integration methods and automated QA testing frameworks.
These tools and technologies are architected for the cloud, and embrace biometric or two-factor user authentication and data privacy protocols, which are further hardened for industry-specific compliance requirements such as HIPAA or PCI.
Investing in back-end infrastructure requires the combined efforts of business executives and technical specialists to articulate the business case and prioritize appropriate IT upgrades.
Investing in People, Process, Technology
None of the tips in this article are easy and some will require strategic investments in people, process and technology.
As we talk with clients in different industries, one of their biggest challenges is building the business case to justify these strategic investments.
Why should we invest in our mobile app and how can we guarantee a return on investment?