How To Evolve Your Mobile Practice.

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Mobile devices have become a ubiquitous part of our daily lives. This pane of glass can evolve to power numerous unique experiences for your users. In today’s world, these devices can be used to communicate, create, entertain, and procure just about anything. Much like this device, companies must continue to evolve their mobile practice in order to take full advantage
of the benefits.

Go all in on mobile

Gone are the days of pushing out a limited experience to just check a box. Mobile is now an important part of our everyday lives and users expect you to meet them where they are at. Forrester expects that US mobile commerce will grow at an annualized rate of 14.4% over the next five years to 2024 and consumers are continually becoming comfortable using their phones for a variety of tasks. If you’re not able to go fully mobile-first, at least make this a significant part of your business. Start with an API-first approach to developing services. An API-first approach means your APIs are treated as “first-class citizens” and involves developing APIs that are consistent, reusable, and revolve around the idea that the end-product will be consumed by mobile devices and client applications.

Use the platforms to their advantage

Each form factor of a platform has its own unique strengths and use-cases. Your user is not going to enjoy holding up their wrist for a complex flow on their watch, so you must tailor the experience. Tablet and desktop apps are geared toward these complex flows that require more precise user input. Phone apps should remain as full-featured as possible while reducing the number of steps to get things done. Remember, your user is probably out and about during this time, so make it as easy as you can for them. Watch apps should be narrowed down to only the quickest and most used experiences. Make these experiences context-aware where possible. Finally, while TV isn’t mobile itself, it is an important gateway into the mobile ecosystem. TV apps are great for content consumption and can be a powerful experience when closely tied to your app ecosystem.

Iterate on your experience

If this is your first foray into mobile, don’t just jump in and build an experience without first testing and talking with your users. User testing with high-fidelity prototypes built in Figma or Invision can glean important insights into what your users are looking for and whether your delivery of features makes sense. Your app shouldn’t require an instruction manual to know how to use it. If you are already established, analytics are a powerful tool for seeing where you should be spending your time and what features could use improvement. Mobile design, functionality, and user expectations are constantly changing. Regardless of where you are in your mobile journey, iteration is key.

Tie into the system

The previous mindset for mobile was to always keep users inside your app. Your app is just one of many possible experiences in today’s mobile world. You must tie into the system frameworks to allow for many more micro-experiences. Do you work with photos or visual content? Add a photo or share extension to show up in the action sheet. Do you support food ordering? Add an iMessage extension to provide an experience where users can order together. Do you need an always-present experience to keep your user informed of the latest crypto prices? Add a widget that can be placed on their home screen. While users may not be in your app, they will have more opportunities for connection with your brand.

Surprise and delight your users

While this does include visual celebrations of your user’s successes, you can surprise and delight your users in other ways. Try to delight the user during key moments and pain points. Go ahead and pre-populate a form for them if you already have the info. Make assumptions based on context or previous use and bubble those actions up to make them easier to perform the next time. Not only does this improve the initial interaction, but your users will remember making their lives easier.

Look at cross platform

Cross-platform may be a way for you to quickly get an MVP out to market to prove out your theories. Cross-platform frameworks like Flutter have made huge improvements since the early days and can support a number of complex experiences. Move back to native when you have a solid feature set and are ready to fully invest in the product. Being native ensures the best performance and access to cutting-edge features on the platform.

By: Ryan Gant, Solutions Architect at Bottle Rocket.

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