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If you don’t have a mobile app or website, chances are you should.

Why? Unless your product or service has zero applicable mobile context, your mobile traffic is probably growing and will continue to do so. It’s not unusual for a business to have 15% of its traffic come from mobile one quarter, only to see it double within the next half year. Being prepared will not only ensure that you can adequately capture a growing mobile market, but will have some added benefits.

Here are 5 things to keep in mind when you’re designing for mobile…

1. Mobile content

Content is vitally important when designing for mobile. You have less space to work with, but can’t force users to go to the desktop website for content they’re seeking on a mobile device.

Make sure that your content provides customers with what they need when they need it. Everything else (features, functionality, apps, websites) work in service of the content. It’s the content that customers consume, love, and hopefully pay for or share.

For non-content focused businesses, the corollary to content-first is something like task-first. Make sure that users can do what they need to do when they need to do it. Then build your solutions accordingly.

2. Mobile first

With growing mobile usage around the world, if you’re building a new product or service you should design and launch mobile first. It’s important to use mobile as a way to:

  • Pare down on features and scope creep
  • Make sure that you know what content and functionality really matters most to your customers
  • Have a design that can easily be scaled up

Scaling designs up is easy, scaling down – as most older companies who did not start out mobile first now know – is much more difficult. If you want to build better products and save time, energy, and cost in the long run, mobile first is the only way to go.

3. Guerrilla testing

If you’re not in constant contact with your customers and actively trying  to meet and exceed customer needs, chances are you’re not innovating, and/or iterating at the rate you need to stay competitive. While formal usability and concept testing is great when you have large overriding questions that need answers, guerrilla testing is a great way to get ongoing, fast, effective feedback on the fly.

Designing mobile first makes guerrilla testing that much easier. It’s less challenging to test a working prototype on a phone in a hallway, street, or cafe than it is to test a full desktop product on a laptop. Even if you’re not launching mobile first, testing mobile first gives you quick feedback so you can validate your assumptions and move to the next phase.

Just like designs, insights from testing on mobile usually scale up to desktop. Just be sure that once you finish your desktop version, you still test that to make sure you’re not missing anything.

If you want to know more about guerrilla teting, the GDS have a comprehensive guide.

4. Participatory design

Just like guerrilla testing, participatory design is a great way to quickly and effectively co-design with teams, stakeholders, customers, or all the above. While this method is by no means just for mobile, in my experience when you include customers in mobile design sessions they tend to have more fun and imaginative ideas than if they were asked to design for desktop.

Does this mean that you have to use ideas that customers co-design with you? Of course not. But if you’re looking to build a better connection with your customers during one-on-one sessions, participatory design is a great way to not only break the ice, but *see* what they have in their heads.

We recently ran a participatory design workshop at Webcredible when making our website responsive and the results were great.

5. Don’t go mobile

By that, I mean that while you need to consider mobile as part of your strategy and product roadmap, your mobile offering will differ depending on your business and customer context. It might be that you need a mobile or responsive website, rather than an app.

In making this decision, do your homework. Find out how your customers use your product. See if there are any significant benefits to going native. Do you already have a native app that you’re not updating? If you do and aren’t getting as much value out of it as you like, find out what the problem is. In short: Talk to your users! Sometimes, once you have a native app, not updating it creates a chicken-egg effect where your customers stop using it and so you don’t update it.

For certain businesses native apps act as part of a strategic branding effort. While customers might not use the app as much as the business would like, it can serve as a parked car in the app store, a brand beacon or sign of innovation. This could be as important to a business as actual usage.

If you want to learn more about designing for mobile, I teach a mobile user experience class that will help you plan, create and execute the best possible mobile presence for your organization.

Remember that moment when you started painting the living room wall, only to realise 10 minutes later you’ve accidentally made the room feel really dark and small, even though you chose a great, bright colour?

Those days are gone. Welcome the new augmented reality app, Dulux Visualizer into your life.

What does it do, I hear you ask

Here’s how Dulux describe their new app:

See your own room in any colour, live! Using unique augmented reality technology, you can see realistic Dulux paint colours appear on your walls with just a tap of the screen. Experiment with bolder colours or narrow down your colour choices with confidence.

The experts at Dulux give you a choice of colour schemes to go with your chosen paint colours or existing furnishings. You can also order paint testers to be delivered direct to your door and find your nearest paint stockists.

Want to see what it looks like in action? We created the short intro video to the app:

Why are we telling you about this? Well, ultimately because we think it’s a really great, useful and fun app (it really is quite addictive) – but also because we’re really proud to have been a part of the team that made the app a reality, from conception through to mobile interface design and testing.

Most importantly though, what do you think?

Check it out, have a play and share your decorating stories & feedback on the app with us – pictures of decorated rooms are very much welcome too.

If you’re embarking on a mobile project feel free to come and have a chat with us, or you can learn loads about mobile experience in our 1 day mobile UX & responsive design course!

Over the last year or so there has been a huge amount of debate surrounding responsive sites, dedicated mobile sites, and native apps. Specifically, debate is focused on which is best and what you should develop.

Recently I came across an example of a native app that’s fit for purpose whereas the other two mobile formats wouldn’t be. The app in question is the official 2013 Sónar Festival app.

Sonar is the International Festival of Advanced Music and New Media Art which takes place in Barcelona for three days every June. Apart from 3 days of multi-venue, non-stop music, there is also Sonar+D which offers workshops, hackathons, interactive installations, product demos and a lot more.

Presented by such breadth of… stuff, I initially felt overwhelmed, and the official lineup did not help at all.  How was I going to manage my itinerary for such a three-day feast? Their solution was a native mobile application, which I downloaded (for free) not expecting to use it much at all.

The best bits

After a frustrating and lengthy attempt at organising my time I turned to the app for help. Much to my surprise, it did just that, helped.

How it helped:

  • There was a great feature which allowed me to be able to bookmark my desired performances and events and create my own calendar which then alerted me a few minutes (5, 15 or 30) before every selected show. With my personalised itinerary mapped out in advance I didn’t need to worry about missing any shows
  • Using the app I could listen to the festivals official play list which were directly streamed from the app using Deezer (a music streaming service). There was also Deezer stream for each artist which was easily accessible along with a synopsis of each artist or activity. This was useful as I could browse and listen to all the artists from one location before and during the event. The collaboration between Sonar and Deezer was great, I’ve never tried Deezer before but now I might give it a try and potentially rethink my Spotify subscription.
  • For a festival with such a plethora of acts and activities they had  present this information in an user friendly format, which they did. Details on the venues was divided into ‘Sonar by day’ and ‘Sonar by night’ as well as integrating Google maps and information on transportation. Similarly, in the ‘Artists and Activities’ tab, the three types of events, the music, Sonar+D and SonarCinema were separated to avoid confusion and results for each were displayed clearly in alphabetical order with photos. In general the usability of the app was brilliant

Any UX glitches?

As a UX consultant, I am always aware there is room for improvement:

  • It’s not easy to find out how to mark an event as a favourite for it to then be added to a schedule
  • The app has some very detailed, interactive indoor maps of their venues. However, It’s not obvious which parts of the venue maps you can interact with

Despite a few small problems its assortment of user centred functions won my heart. It was great to use a festival app not primarily used as a sales tool, it was to help better the user experience. Have you had an experience with a great festival app? If so, please do share it with us, we would love to give it a go!

Kayak‘ is a tech company ‘focused on making online travel better’. With 20 million+ downloads their travel app is one of the most popular on the market.

I took the time to look at it because not only is it popular but it’s a shining example of how to design an application that incorporates multiple features into one simple, user friendly application. Oh, and it also does mCommerce pretty well.

Highlights:

  • Clear and big call-to-actions
  • Same features as desktop version
  • Comprehensible sorting filters across all features
  • Map/list option and the map runs really quickly and shows consolidated results, e.g. 5+ hotels in the same area appear under the same tab when map is zoomed out
  • Generally, the app is quick and light
  • The auto-fill option is brilliant, and for an app which requires a lot of information at regular intervals this can really save a lot of time
  • There is a ‘Guest login’ option if you book via Kayak, another great time saver for making purchases on a mobile device

Areas (small) for improvement

  • Calendars could be more contextual, so that they don’t show previous weeks
  • Some icons and information isn’t intuitive. For example,   looking for flights a number appears on the right side, but it’s not immediately clear what it stands for
  • As per our recent mCommerce study we know that security is very important to users making purchases on mobile devices. While the Kayak app does display a symbol (padlock) close to where you enter credit card details, it could provide more reassurances, especially give the high value nature of purchasing hotels or flights
  • If you chose not to pay via Kayak the checkout process largely depends on how good website is to which you are redirected, a necessary evil for bargain hunters

 

As an Agency we are very proud of the work we do with charities and non-profits – as such we like to keep abreast of the latest developments in the sector. Enter Charity Technology Conference 2012 (#Charitytech).

All in all it was a great event – We exhibited via our ‘advice hotspot’ (a nice idea to encourage clients to engage and for agencies to offer advice over a pitch)  and attended some brilliant seminars.

Generally, a constant feature of most technology events we have attended this year (everything from ad:tech to Figaro digital) has been Mobile. It is undeniably extremely important for any business, charitable of otherwise, to keep abreast of developments in this arena – thankfully, charity tech had not overlooked this.  The seminar, ‘Engaging with donors in a mobile market’ – A British Red Cross case study, actually coupled two of our favorite things: mobile and customer experience, definitely our highlight of the event.

Other mentions go out to great talks on social from Bertie Bosredon and seminars on another prominent feature in the tech event circuit – the cloud. In all a great, engaging event. Charity Tech 2013 anyone?

To see some photos of the event head over to our Pinterest page.

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We're a user experience agency (UX agency) that creates people-centred, efficient and delightful digital experiences.

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