User Experiences for Mobile: Here Comes the Future Part 1

The mobile user experience has become a high-stakes moment. There are more options than ever fighting for screen space and user loyalty while at the same time mobile device users have become much savvier and expectations are greater than ever in the smart device era.

A slowdown in both app adoption and growth rates among users confirms the bar has been raised to get a user’s attention and retain it.
That has raised the bar not only for manufacturers but also for software designers and companies leveraging mobile technology to reach customers.
And with more widespread availability and usage of AI, machine learning, and chat bots, the options are expanding even as the stakes are getting higher for nailing the consumer-facing experience the first time.
So how are companies handling these challenges in the rapidly-changing mobile sphere?
A number of executives from different disciplines shared their insight, experiences and outlook for this analysis.
We greatly appreciate their time and contributions without which this project wouldn’t have been possible.
They are as follows:
Dagny Prieto, VP, Product Platform and UX, Time Inc.
Aryk P. Moore, Chief UX Designer, The Boeing Company
Doug Reston, SVP, Design & Mobile, GoDaddy
 
Meeting the Challenge:
Consumer-facing companies face myriad challenges from acquiring the user to satisfying and reengaging the consumer. But what are the most pressing hurdles at this juncture? The insiders shared their three most pressing challenges at the moment.
 
Moore: The biggest challenges we face include driving visual design standards across The Boeing Company so that we can ensure a consistent experience for our customers.
Also, how can we bring the “Design with customers, not for them” philosophy to more of Boeing’s software teams.
And of course, how to do both of the above items with cost constraints and fewer resources.
Prieto: The changes in the media landscape and business model (of legacy media outlets) is the biggest challenge.
Then there’s distributed publishing, getting our content on third-party platforms in smart ways. And we need to get actionable data out of the third-party platforms.
Reston: There are three categories of challenges. There’s the “technical challenge”—increasing engineering efficiency. For example, increasing code re-use and cross-platform design.
Then an “experience challenge”: defining and implementing a scalable design system rather than a series of individual touch points.
And lastly, the “business challenge/opportunity.” There is enormous opportunity to innovate and bring mobile first solutions to our customers. We see such an enormous set of new scenarios that our customers would find valuable that our challenge is to be first to deliver them to market globally.
 
Making the User Experience Cross-Fit for Different Platforms
 
Designing beyond mobile and desktop
The proliferation of screen options beyond mobile and desktop has opened a world of possibilities but also a virtual plethora of options and new challenges for creating a seamless experience for users across platforms. So how are brands handling the device deluge? And what are the best methods to streamline cross-platform functionality?
 
Moore: Boeing does have several well-received, and even industry-leading mobile apps; however, recently, our strategy has shifted to mobile web development instead of native app development. 
This allows us to reduce our native mobile app presence, while providing the mobile-ready functionality our customers expect.  That said, I don’t expect our mobile apps to phase out completely.
Prieto: Scale matters. We decide which platforms to pursue based on market or potential market size.
Not all audiences are equal. Some are more valuable than others.
Additionally the same users have different behaviors on different platforms and devices.
Reston: We are creating a service layer based on a modular user experience that allows our experience to be accessible anywhere and scalable across customer segments and geographies.
We are also providing a consistently branded experience while still honouring the user’s decision in mobile platforms. Our apps need to feel like a GoDaddy experience, but when running on an iPhone, it should feel like the same “GoDaddy Experience” but built for an iPhone.
 
Role Playing: Physical and Digital
As user experiences evolve, companies are working on different methods of integrating the mobile-physical experience as part of the overall mobile user experience. And executives say they are already finding that some models that received acclaim just a year or so ago may not be as viable as many in the industry first thought.
 
Moore: This is an area that is particularly interesting in aviation maintenance.  We are starting to really see airlines transitioning away from paper maintenance data, in favour of digital data representations. 
This puts much more attention and focus on the maintenance data delivery solutions that my team is working on.
Prieto: On-demand isn't the panacea people thought it would be. Uber for X really works best with Uber and not most other things.  The next wave will be about gaming and entertainment and less about convenience.
 
The second installment of this research will be published in the next newsletter.