Editor’s Note: This guide was written in partnership with Jeannie Walters, CCXP, CEO, founder of Experience Investigators™.
Mobile devices have transformed our daily lives more than any other technology in the last ten years. It’s unfair to even refer to them as phones when they are so much more than that.
We carry these interactive tools in our pockets and use them for everything from recording videos to filling shopping carts or signing mortgage documents. That’s why understanding how users interact with your brand via their mobile device is so important.
Mobile user experience (UX) is the experience a user has with your branded website and/or mobile application. This experience goes beyond the user interface (UI) and includes the way the user perceives their experiences while interacting with touchpoints.
Mobile UX considers the same traits as other parts of the customer journey:
Is the experience credible and reliable for the customer?
Does this part of the journey build or erode trust?
Are customer needs fulfilled in ways that are easy, convenient, and enjoyable?
Is the customer recognized so their experience is personalized?
Does the experience live up to your brand promise?
It’s tempting to relegate mobile experience as something different or separate from the rest of the journey. But knowing mobile UX has to live up to these standards can help guide your decisions and gather the right feedback from customers to help your brand exceed their expectations.
In this guide, we’ll outline key considerations to deliver the best mobile user experience.
First things first: mobile is not just a small desktop
The mobile experience is not just about shrinking down the desktop experience. But yes, size is a key consideration.
What’s most important to users on mobile? How do you know?
Context is key. Think of all the differences a smaller screen requires. While customers might want the full functionality of the desktop experience at some level, they don’t want the entire complex home screen presented in the same way. Take a look at how different the Amazon experience is from one channel to the next.
The desktop has plenty of space to showcase products and mention promotions like the Extended returns window.
The top navigation is easy to see and navigate.
Here’s the same home page on an Android mobile browser.
Note how the space is leveraged completely differently for the mobile browser.
The top navigation is prioritized from left to right. The mobile browser experience also has to rotate vertically for the customer. The top navigation bar indicates there’s more to the right of the vertical screen. The user can swipe to see the additional tabs.
Or they can rotate their phone, allowing for more top navigation viewing but less actual real estate for the content. See below.
The majority of users, according to most research, use their phone in the vertical position most of the time. But the ability to examine product photos more closely, for example, leads users to leverage the horizontal view as needed.
Baymard Institute found 50% of mobile users in their latest research tried to view products via landscape mode for a better look. Unfortunately for those customers, 52% of sites don’t scale up product images proportionally when switched to landscape mode. Consider how this behavior might prevent purchases on mobile browsers.
Mobile designers have two channels to focus on, both mobile websites as well as apps. Let’s discuss the qualities of the mobile app experience as opposed to the mobile website.
The mobile app experience
More and more brands are developing mobile apps for customers to use. Mobile apps can be beneficial for the brand and the customer, but customers demand that apps provide value beyond the mobile browser experience.
Amazon provides a lighter, more organized, and personalized experience via its mobile app.
It’s subtle, but do you see the difference?
In the mobile app, the customer needs are hidden in the “hamburger” navigation in the top left. Customers who use apps get to know how they work and become familiar with how to get what they need. Expanding that menu provides everything for the customer in a streamlined, mobile-friendly way.
Customers are relying on mobile apps more than ever. According to eMarketer, nearly 90% of mobile internet time is spent on apps. That is predicted to grow even more.
A mobile app is a dedicated location on the user’s device–taking up data and visual space. Customers need to feel like the app is worth it to earn that place on their device. Apps are often focused on one area of the experience. Banking apps, for example, allow users to do specific things within their accounts.
Most menus include basic transactions like viewing account activity, transferring money, or paying a bill. Banks are recognizing how users want to interact with them without going into a physical branch. Apps have evolved to include services like mobile check deposits using phone cameras and applying for loans.
App teams are also concerned with improving the overall app store rating. Low app store ratings can deter users from downloading.
By collecting feedback within the app experience, you can let your users alert you of issues and bugs as well as leave suggestions before they do so in the app store. This way, you can find and fix issues or add new features and improve the app experience without your app score going down. You can also use a customer feedback solution to encourage app users to leave positive feedback in the app store.
Before launching GetFeedback Digital on its mobile app, Beachbody On Demand (BOD) had a total of 158 ratings with an overall app store rating of 2.8 out of 5. Once a user leaves positive feedback, the survey directs them to leave feedback in the app store. In turn, the app received over 6,000 more ratings. The score has since increased to 4.9 (up 2+ points) and it now has greater than 100,000 app store ratings.
Understanding customers' needs to create and improve mobile apps is key to winning their loyalty, in both emotional engagement and tangible results like spend-of-wallet.
Using the Amazon example, take a look at how its mobile app addresses customer needs in ways that are still different than the mobile browser example.
Let’s break down the essentials for getting mobile UX right.
Getting mobile UX right
While each brand’s customer base has unique needs on mobile apps and websites, there are some universal elements to providing a great mobile UX.
1. Understand the platform
Just like in the examples here, consider each mobile UX scenario and ensure the basics are covered. Is there too much information on the mobile screen? How do things look when rotated in the mobile browser?
What’s the goal of the mobile app for your customer? Creating a mobile app that acts as nothing but a shopping cart doesn’t serve the mobile user. Users need a reason to use the app you provide. It’s easier than you might think for users to download an app and lose it on their phone.
Some reports show that 25 percent of apps downloaded worldwide are only accessed once after downloading! How can you be sure your app is necessary and relevant for customers? Ask them.
Using microsurveys and targeted questioning, users can let you know what’s most important to them in the mobile experience.
KLM, a Dutch airline, uses microsurveys on its app to ensure they are prioritizing the right features for customers. They asked app users, “what features are missing from our app experience?” With limited space, providing what most customers need where they need it is a critical way to build reliability on the app.
Customer suggestions collected in the KLM in-app survey included:
Multi-city flights: “I want to book multi-city flights.”
Retro-claim for miles: “After I had my flight, I still want to receive my miles on my Flying Blue account.”
In-app native flight status: “I want this to be available in the app instead of redirecting to the website.”
These customer suggestions helped KLM prioritize new features on its roadmap based on customer data. With the addition of these features, customer satisfaction improved.
Another brand, Human, an exercise tracking app, used microsurveys to understand customer needs on its app. To help them prioritize new app features, the mobile team used a survey to capture insight into how customers were getting their daily exercise. They also included open-text fields for users to add suggestions, as well as the option to leave an email for follow-up.
(GetFeedback Digital feedback widget and microsurvey on the Human app)
By engaging in conversation with users through feedback, Human was able to understand its users’ goals and needs on the app. Specificity is key to making real change in your mobile platform experience. With targeted feedback surveys directed at the right users on a specific feature, you take unambiguous insights and find patterns that outline your path to optimization.
2. Provide the right choices for users
Users need to have the right tools to achieve their goals via mobile sites and apps. If they are asked to register, for example, they need a keyboard to do so.
But do they need a complete keyboard when asked to enter a zipcode or phone number? No, they need just the numbers. Provide them with exactly what they need at the moment.
And remember to provide autofill and other conveniences when possible as thumbs are not always the best typists.
In every scenario when requesting something from users, ask if there’s a way to make it simpler. One designer I worked with suggested we think of every mobile user as a bus rider. They were standing on a crowded bus, hanging on to a pole with one hand, and managing their mobile device in the other. They were trying to get something accomplished before arriving at their destination, and the mobile experience had to make that possible.
Are the choices your mobile UX offering working for that bus rider?
3. Make it even simpler than desktop
Mobile UX is all about creating simple, less complex versions of the desktop experience. This means creating minimalist moments. Aim for one action per screen, if possible. Users can navigate with the top navigation bar or the expanding menu, but on the screen they are seeing, what do they need to do?
Simplicity is about more than aesthetics. Page load time can be the difference of keeping a user on your mobile site or not. A simpler mobile page will load faster. As page load time increases, the probability of the user leaving goes up, too.
A one-second versus 10 second load time increases the probability rate of user abandonment by 123%, according to MachMetrics. That means overloading the mobile experience could mean limiting the amount of interaction with customers before they even arrive on the site.
While the UX between the desktop, mobile browser, and mobile app experiences may be different, the branding and look and feel are obviously the same brand. You don’t want users to feel lost or confused about which brand they’re dealing with.
Representing the brand consistently, regardless of the channel, is part of building trust and reliability with customers. Mobile UX is no different. So while simplicity is critical, maintaining a consistent brand is key to that experience, as well.
Customers might hop between their mobile device and their desktop and back again. That experience should be seamless, too. If their shopping cart is full on their mobile device, they should be able to purchase those items from the shopping cart on their desktop.
Customers will feel that the experience is simple enough to serve them.
4. Simple is good. Simple with choice is even better.
Options in mobile design allow for ways to interact with the experience other platforms don’t. Touchscreens allow for easier swiping via carousel experiences and comparisons.
Some UX purists will say having a slider on a site is unacceptable, but I disagree when it comes to the mobile experience. Swiping on a photo or large text image is a lot easier than swiping small text, line arrows, or the like.
When Sephora updated its successful customer app, it released the branded app with a personalized carousel of promotions. Each customer would see and swipe promotions just for them. This design serves both as a great way to recognize the customer personally and to provide an easy way to get to preferred products quickly and easily.
Swipe left, and the personalized recommendations keep going!
Another way to provide simplicity and choice is to offer easy, accessible service options for customers, like chat functionality. Be careful not to overload the page, but offering an interactive, conversational experience can help users find information in natural ways, without searching.
Bank of America released its “Erica” chatbot on the mobile banking app to help customers with everyday banking needs. Within two years, Erica was serving more than 10 million users. The simple functionality in the app allowed customers to choose how they interacted with the chatbot. Erica responds to voice requests or text. Thanks to Erica, Bank of America has also seen more engagement.
Customers who see the value in the app and appreciate the choices offered feel more in control of their experience. Provide simple choices and leverage the technology available to serve customers and they’ll connect with your brand more.
5. Keep asking customers what they want
With any customer experience, insights from real customer feedback is key to delivering what customers want. Mobile experiences are no different.
The ThinkWithGoogle team that revamped the Sephora app recommended to “build a culture of testing. Prepare to be humbled.”
Our mobile devices are one of the most personal items we own. We rely on it in so many aspects of our daily lives. If we are inviting a brand to spend time on our device with us, we want that experience to feel seamless and personalized.
The act of asking for feedback is engaging with customers. Help them help you design, innovate, and customize the mobile UX in the best possible ways.
In the next chapter, we’ll dive into four mobile touchpoints to request and gather feedback.
Where to capture feedback in the mobile experience
Your customers have the answers to many of your questions. By asking for their feedback on mobile apps and websites, you can design your mobile UX with their wants and needs at the heart of your project. Here are 4 areas in the mobile experience to capture feedback from your users.
1. The home page
Allow customers to have a place to provide general comments and feedback. As we mentioned, customers become quite familiar with the apps they use often. This means they have an eye to improve it as they use it. Invite users to share those ideas with you.
The app or mobile website homepage is where you might lose customers if there is a bug or malfunctioning feature.
A feedback button strategically placed across your mobile website or app allows users to reach out to you with any questions, comments, or suggestions.
For example, TUI Group, a major travel agency, discovered that its search panel wasn’t functioning within the Google Chrome app. This issue impacted 11% of its mobile traffic, which in turn attributes to a potential revenue loss of $350,000 per week. With customer feedback, the issue appeared clear and TUI was able to fix the bug rapidly.
2. Complex interactions
A customer ordering a complicated product might require information like measurements, technical specs, or specific delivery instructions within the order. Mobile UX around these complications could lead to an increased likelihood of customer confusion or frustration.
Ask for feedback along the way to ensure any bugs, confusing instructions or errors are addressed quickly.
For airline customers, mobile devices are increasingly functioning as a one-stop-shop for all their needs from buying the flight to scanning their ticket at security. Because flights are high-ticket items and include complex processes to purchase, it's imperative to capture feedback post-purchase to ensure the process is seamless for the user and identify any moments of friction.
3. Shopping cart and checkout
Shoppers who load up the shopping cart but never checkout might be discouraged by factors in the mobile experience. The nuisance of registration instead of allowing a guest checkout, blocking the shopping cart with “subscribe now” or other calls-to-action, or simply asking for too much information are all reasons customers leave their items. Asking for feedback at this key stage could be the difference between happy customers or frustrated shoppers.
Consider capturing customer feedback within the app experience with a feedback button placed at the bottom of the screen. This way, you can capture user insights without interrupting the user experience.
(GetFeedback Digital feedback widget placed on the bottom of the screen)
4. New features
Mobile features have to be continuously adapted to ensure frictionless customer journeys. What is the customer’s experience throughout her user journey? How does she experience new features? What features are missing that would enhance the customer’s experience?
Say you work at Spotify and you just launched a new “Create a Playlist” flow in the app. Once you’ve launched the new feature, you could ask users for feedback through a small slide-out survey:
“Hey, we created these new search functionalities, does it work for you?”
With the qualitative feedback gathered from this microsurvey, you’ll know:
If the feature is doing what it should.
Can you follow up with the customer when the issue is fixed?
Worried no one will respond? Advanced targeting options ensure you’re not bothering your users. They stay engaged and are motivated to leave their thoughts with you.
Capturing feedback on new features also helps you validate assumptions. A large second-hand fashion market in Europe wanted to investigate user behavior on its app.
They found that more than 50% of all products were viewed for the first time approximately 24 hours before the purchase was made. This raised the question: Did users have a hard time finding products they viewed previously, delaying the time to purchase?
To find out, they created a survey asking buyers how difficult it was to find the item again after they had first seen it. From the 942 responses received in a little over two days, the majority of respondents indicated that it was not difficult to relocate the item.
They realized this was simply a part of the buying journey, and didn’t waste time developing a solution for a non-existent problem.
Capturing feedback across the customer journey with a feedback button and microsurveys is the clearest way to understand what’s working on your app and mobile website. When you collect user insights, you can see exactly where to improve and what to prioritize to make the mobile experience delightful.
The future of mobile UX
Customers will continue to rely on mobile experiences as part of their overall customer journeys. Investing in mobile experience means investing in the customer experience. In fact, it’s estimated that the market for mobile is nearly half of the entire global population, according to the Interaction Design Foundation.
If you don’t already have guiding principles around mobile UX, start to create them now. Start with the customer and understand their overall journey and needs. Keep asking. Keep improving.
Learn how GetFeedback can help you exceed customers’ expectations—start your free trial today.