The Context of Mobile
Mobile has become ubiquitous and is dominating the consumer’s life and the marketplace as evidenced by this annual report from Ofcom.
With such a powerful device in the palm of all of our hands, marketers need to leverage mobile to reach consumers. To be successful, marketers must optimize the mobile experience to fit the context of the usage of the device and user preferences.
For mobile, context is not only based on location. Consumers are in a different mindset when they put down their phone just before bed and reach for it as soon as they wake. Users on a mission to book travel, research for a purchase, look up the hometown of their new favorite band, play a game while waiting in line, or navigate to an appointment all have very different contexts for their usage of their handheld devices.
Context relies on a variety of circumstances such as culture, environment, goals, tasks, connection, or device. Context is the user’s intentions while using the device and the marketer can influence how the user is affected. Mobile devices are continuously used in the consumer’s life. It is up to marketers to provide user friendly (contextually relevant) content with little disruption to the user’s “flow.”
Companies are able to meet consumer needs and improve the user experience by understanding them.
“A few ways experience designers can better think through different contexts is by physically putting themselves in the scenario and experiencing what the users will feel—this includes anything from sound pollution to visual stimuli that alter the screen-only experience. Also, think beyond typical contextual considerations, including environmental, cultural, or even temporal contexts, as it helps to extend thinking beyond the device.”
Having trouble thinking of the consumers perspective? Evaluate their:
Location. Where is the consumer and what are they trying to accomplish?
Emotions. What is their emotional state currently? A quick temper can cause a user to lash out and become frustrated with the interface. Practice empathetic marketing on the site and ensure an easy-to-use interface to ease interactions.
Time. The user has a finite amount of it, don’t waste it or they will not visit again. Keep site messaging simple.
Consumer journey. Know where the consumer is in their journey and cater messaging based on their past or current behaviors. Data analytics helps track returning users, retargeting methods help diversify call-to-actions, and detailed personas determine the wants/needs of the consumer.
Influencers. Review sites, celebrities, and personal relationships play a hand in a consumer’s purchase. Be mindful.
Preferences. How much time do they spend on their mobile device and what features are critical to their experience?
Richard Makerson, from mobile experience partner, BlueFletch, says that "The goal is to become user focused instead of addressing the task or feature only. When developers have a high level of context and practical experience with use cases the quality of the work output is superior."
Knowing how to pinpoint the user’s headspace is important when creating necessary features.
“There will always be feature demands spurred by device capability, but clients increasingly want deep integration with backend and third party systems,” says Allen. “These integrations add the functionally users expect and are, many times, already built—and can be leveraged via mobile.”
Meet their needs by developing the following device components to enhance the user’s mobile experience:
Do the tools and features allow users to complete tasks and achieve goals?
Optimize and prioritize features like product search, product review, check-in, order status and shopping cart that are relevant to the business.
Place touch targets appropriately to avoid selection errors. The easier it is to navigate a site and click on mobile-friendly links, the less frustrated the user.
Decrease the effort required to enter personal data by offering autocomplete, spell check, and prediction technology. With these automatic features, be sure to clearly state privacy policies and ask for permission before collecting any information.
Keep alerts and notifications brief, informative and clear- they should be easy to act on or dismiss and should not interrupt the user’s workflow.
Do the various types of material provide information or engage the user?
Present and produce a mix of product information, social content, support content, and marketing content for the user. Give the user control of what they can skip, listen to, or view. The content must add value and reside on a format supported by the device.
Encourage social participation with the content created by maintaining an active social media presence and offering easy ways to connect.
Provide and promote mobile offers that can be shared and go viral. This increases brand awareness and also acts as a tool to obtain user-generated content.
Is the visual presentation and interactive experience in a logical structure that helps users navigate easily and complete tasks?
Convey the brand identity in a thorough but quick manner on the app or site. The landing page should have the main features and content.
Present the user with a speedy, descriptive tutorial on how to use the app and make the support functions easily visible. The fewer taps needed to navigate, the better.
Maintain visual consistency through the use of color, typography and personality. Attention to details like contrast, color, font size, and typography come in handy when the user encounters varying conditions like lighting changes.
Makerson states, "The mobile experience and how a user interacts with a given mobile application is key to winning trust with the user. An application that is not intuitive or clear, leaving a user to ‘guess what this button does’, can invoke feelings of anxiety and unease. For enterprise applications, this can be the cause of lost productivity and have serious financial implications when considering that time is money."
Mobile is a powerful tool that influences how consumers behave and how marketers market. Allen believes that “Mobile can enhance, simulate or even add capabilities to the human senses, allowing physical experiences to go beyond how we naturally perceive or interact with them.”