NB: This is a guest article by Bill Loller, vice president of mobile product management at Tealeaf, an IBM Company.
Mobile devices are rapidly displacing the desktop as the primary means to access the web and interact with the world at large.
The penetration of these devices has surpassed all expectations and in fact, according to a May 2012 mobile research report from Google, 80% of people donâ€™t leave home without their mobile device.
As widespread mobile adoption continues to skyrocket, so then do the expectations associated with the mobile experience.
The proliferation of smartphones and tablets across different mobile platforms, mobile web, native app and hybrid apps all add to the complexity companiesâ€™ face when it comes to delivering the mobile experience that consumers not only expect, but demand.
This becomes all the more important for travel-focused companies. Travel services really are the killer app for mobile devices. Consumers are using their smartphones and tablets to research and book travel services at a vastly increasing pace.
According to research Tealeaf just conducted, 15% of consumers are already using the mobile web for travel services, and another 13% are using mobile applications downloaded from one of the top app stores. Delivering a compelling experience in the mobile channel is critical for successfully engaging consumers.
A recent Harris Interactive survey revealed that 85% of consumers who had conducted a mobile transaction in the last year expected the experience on their mobile devices to be better than using a laptop or desktop computer.
There has never been a more crucial time to invest in mobile channels, as the mobile experience has now become far more critical than the desktop experience. Design, functionality and real-time insight all play an integral role in delivering a mobile experience that fosters brand loyalty and evangelism.
The same Harris Interactive survey also showed that only 41% of consumers thought the mobile experience lived up to their expectations. There is a huge gap between the expectation and the actual experience.
This provides an opportunity to create real competitive advantage by investing in the mobile experience and delighting your travel customers.
Designing for mobile is hard. Mobile consumers are task-oriented. They want the essentials of whatever they are looking for and they want them quickly.
Things that prolong their search or cause them to struggle will quickly lead to them abandoning your mobile service, and lead to an overall impact on your brand.
The Harris Interactive survey also revealed that 63% of all online adults would be less likely to buy from a company via other purchase channels if they experienced a problem conducting a mobile transaction.
A simple, clean, easy-to-use site or app is required. But making something simple is hard. Some common mistakes in designing the mobile experience are:
- Visual overload
- Making the user fill out long forms
- Not accounting for size/width of the finger
- Not accounting for device width
- Heavy or too many image files
- Opaque design â€“ user canâ€™t figure out what is happening
- Not setting a home screen icon
- Making pages non-zoomable
This is an excellent source for understanding what isnâ€™t working with your mobile experience. Consumers will leave incredibly detailed feedback, down to the error codes they are getting.
And the good news is that when you do get it right, consumers are still quick to talk about it, and can really raise the goodwill around your brand.
The last year has seen the phrase “mobile first” become the new mantra for digital channel design. For the travel industry, given mobile growth rates, we are not too far from “mobile only” becoming a reality.
Maintaining a simple, consistent, easy-to-use experience in your mobile websites and applications will go a long way toward establishing a successful presence in the mobile channel.
NB:Â This is a guest article by Bill Loller, vice president of mobile product management atÂ Tealeaf, an IBM Company.