Digital Marketing Magazine: The Importance of User-Centred Design

October 7, 2014

If you decide to engage with a brand today, the chances are you will be doing it on your mobile. So what happens when you have a poor experience while you’re on the move? You’re going to move on to a competitor’s site.

With such a high percentage of traffic flowing through mobile channels, businesses need to concentrate on creating great mobile user experience that consumers will value and recommend to their peers. If you make your customer the priority throughout the design process, they will make you their number one choice. So how do we do this?

Strategy

It might sound obvious, but before you start work on your mobile site, make sure you have a clear plan in place. The goals for the project and what you want to get out of your mobile site should be nailed down first. Once you have this vision in place you can move on to setting the user and business goals for the mobile experience. Customer insight must be at the heart of everything that you do and must dictate the design of your mobile site.

Simply shrinking an existing desktop experience should not be considered a mobile strategy, though it is a trap that many companies fall into. Mobile must be central to your business and reflect the needs of your customers, a premise that milk&more has embraced fully.

Building a mobile-optimised site has allowed the traditional grocery service, delivered by the milkman, to expand the brand in digital. Rather than seeing mobile as a threat to a traditional business, milk&more developed a clear strategy to fill the gap left by large stores’ delivery model by becoming the “top-up” service for the likes of bread, milk and even tin foil, that people need to pick up outside of the big weekly shop. This strategy has allowed it to enhance the traditional personal approach so valued by consumers, with the added convenience of the mobile offering. It has seen such a success that mobile could even become the service’s main platform, ahead of desktop and new visits to the website are up to 36% via mobile. It’s a great example of how dedicating time and resources to a mobile strategy can change a company’s direction and allow it to evolve within its marketplace.

Context is king

Once the strategy is clear the design process can begin but there is one key factor that must be central to any decision that is made relating to your mobile site - context. Unlike sites designed for desktops, users could be up a mountain on their mobile or on the train shopping on their tablet. To ensure that these users can complete their task, regardless of location, device capability or network performance, content flows have to make sense to the user and allow them to access the resources they need given the tools at their disposal.

User Journey

Mobile users are task-oriented so every element of the mobile experience needs to be focused on helping them complete the job. Mobile sites must be streamlined so that at every stage of the journey the user has the relevant options available to complete their task as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Avenue 32, the luxury online brand has seen the benefits of this user-centric approach. By focusing on the user journey and understanding how behaviour changes by devices, it has seen transactions on mobile and tablet increase by 270 percent, a key contribution to the company’s overall sales.

Keep it simple

To aid this user journey, any unnecessary content should be eliminated from the site, ensuring mobile users remain engaged and have a clear path to purchase. This includes avoiding massive images, too much text, unnecessary steps, un-optimised forms and unsupported downloads. The mistake that many companies make is assuming that responsive design will solve their mobile problems. However, this approach falls short when it comes to providing a streamlined and contextual experience that is needed to keep mobile users on your site.

Performance

When you are designing a mobile site, the screen restraints, mobile processing and operating systems mean you cannot afford to replicate feature-rich designs used for the desktop. The key is a lean and optimised site. At the end of the day mobile users need to complete a task and there need to be as few obstacles to this as possible.

Don’t rest on your laurels

Once you have set up your mobile site, the worst thing you can do is sit back and think your work is done. The mobile marketplace and user expectations are constantly changing and so must your site. Companies should always be improving their mobile offerings and concentrating on applying the insights gained from data analytics and customer feedback.

If mobile sites do not adapt to changing user expectations then the outcome will be simple; customers will move elsewhere.

Read the article on Digital Marketing Magazine

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