NB: This is a guest post by Gerry Samuels, founder and executive director of Mobile Travel Technologies.
A colleague and I were recently reviewing a newly released mobile application that has generated a lot of buzz.
The first thing we noticed was that this app looks and functions exactly the same on each platform.
At first glance, this seems like a reasonable approach. Brand consistency is one of the golden rules of marketing and you want every customer to have the same brand experience.
But, hereâ€™s the problem. The phones arenâ€™t the same, and neither is the way people use them. Making your app and user interface exactly the same doesnâ€™t ensure an equally good experience. In fact, it usually guarantees that some experiences are better than others.
When your app doesnâ€™t comply with the phoneâ€™s conventions and capabilities, not only are you not leveraging that valuable spend, youâ€™re also working against it. Why swim upstream?
A few common examples:
- iPhone users expect to have a back button at the top left hand of the screen. Android phones all have a physical back button at the bottom right of the screen, and thatâ€™s how Android users are used to navigating. Including an on-screen back button confuses things.
- iPhone and Android handle pop up date pickers beautifully. Customers can use the touch screen to quickly select dates. Many BlackBerry devices rely on a scroll wheel to select options. Scrolling 46 days forward to select a departure is bound to frustrate your customer. Dropdowns for date, month and year are a better choice for the platform.
- iPhone apps often place labels and instructions for data input fields inside the field itself to minimize clutter on the screen. This works perfectly because the label remains visible until the user starts typing in the field. With many Android implementations, the moment the user selects a field the label disappears. Now your customer is staring at an empty form field wondering what to type. Taking advantage of the built-in Android field hint functionality would offer a more Android-friendly experience.
In each of these cases, the app will function, and your customer can complete the task if they are patient and committed.
Is ‘be patient and committed’ a demand you really want to make of your customers?
First impressions count â€“ 26% of apps are only ever used once, and 48% of apps are used three or fewer times.
The travel industry has largely moved on from exploring and proving the business case for mobile. PhocusWright recorded $2.6 billion worth of mobile travel bookings in 2011.
The jury is in and the game has shifted. Offering a functional, transactional experience is no longer enough. More than 70% of people expect a mobile app to be easier to use than a full featured website. And many of them are frustrated and disappointed.
To win at mobile, travel suppliers need to provide a complete mobile experience that considers context and delivers the best user experience for what the customer is trying to do, when and where they are trying to do it, and for the device they are trying to do it with.
This requires careful planning, clear understanding of different customer needs and expectations, and technology that is flexible enough to allow you to deliver a mobile experience that fits the customer, the task and the context.
You donâ€™t want everyoneâ€™s mobile experience to be the same. You want everyoneâ€™s mobile experience to be amazing.
NB:Â This is a guest post by Gerry Samuels, founder and executive director ofÂ Mobile Travel Technologies.