What are the key mobile UX trends that should be underpinning modern usability strategies?

If there’s one word which sums up the key consideration for marketers in 2016 it’s “mobile.” Mobile is changing the way businesses operate and serve customers.

Forrester recently said that 2016 will be defined by empowered customers who expect to get anything they want immediately, in context on their mobile devices. They said the gap between customer-obsessed leaders who will embrace mobile as a means to create new value and laggards who consider mobile to be a stand-alone channel will widen. Today just 14% of companies surveyed by Forrester use mobile to try to transform their customers’ experiences.

With mobile such a key battleground, here’s our round-up of the important mobile trends that all UX pros should be aware of.

Mobile Usage

Last year, we passed the point where there are more searches on mobile than desktop. By most metrics mobile now IS the internet. The number of smartphone users worldwide is predicted to surpass two billion in 2016 – one quarter of the people on the planet – and it is estimated that people pick up their mobile devices 150 to 200 times a day.

Forrester found that in the US this resulted in almost 30 billion US mobile moments per day, and that these mobile moments are the next battleground where companies will win, serve and retain their customers.

Younger demographic mobile usage is growing at a faster rate than older ones. 16 to 24 year olds spend an average of 3.25 hours per day online on a mobile.

Mobile Apps

Consumers have shown their support for mobile apps in a big way; in fact, there will be an estimated 200 billion app downloads in 2017. However, as many as 25% of users who download an app will open it once and then never open it again. So how can marketers keep these users engaged?

Marketers must make their app critical to their audience’s regular activities or tap into larger third party providers, such as Google or Facebook, where their audience already spends their time.

84% of US consumer mobile time spent per month is in five or less apps. Of this, retailers, banks and travel apps collectively receive less than 10-15% of mobile moments measured in minutes. The issue of managing and switching between the many apps on our mobile devices seems to be the main problem which leads to users only using a handful every day.

The top five mobile apps of 2015 were:

  • Facebook
  • YouTube
  • Facebook Messenger
  • Google Play
  • Google Search

Mobile Marketing

Organizations are increasingly delivering mobile-optimized websites and emails, typically using responsive design.  However, the danger for many marketers is for them to think that they can put a checkmark next to the mobile box. That’s just the start.

Talk to your prospects and customers to understand how and when they want your information on a smartphone device. 29% of visitors immediately switch to another site if they don’t get what they need, so every second counts!

As the mobile channel matures and technologies develop, so too does the field of Mobile User Experience. More designers are switching over to the mobile-first approach.

Mobile Commerce

Mobile commerce transactions are expected to reach $142 billion in 2016, up from $115 billion in 2015. In fact, mobile commerce accounts for 35% of e-commerce. By 2020, mobile commerce will account for 49% of e-commerce ($252 billion) due to its 17% compound annual growth rate.

Most mobile sales follow into 3 categories:

  • Apparel
  • Consumer electronics
  • Media

It’s not primarily the domain of online purchases, either. 82% of people consult their phone regarding a purchase they’re about to make in a store. Remember how 29% of visitors will immediately switch to another site if they can’t get what they’re after? Whose site, and thus whose store, are they visiting? A competitors.

Wearables

Given the extreme speed of smartphone growth, wearables have lost some of their edge. Some people view these products as accessories, not for core end user experiences. Many use targeted smartphone apps to accomplish the same functionality as a wearable. However, as technology develops this perception is likely to change.

eMarketer estimates that in 2015, 39.5 million US adults used wearables, including smartwatches, fitness trackers and other devices. That’s a jump of 57.7% over 2014, and eMarketer expects that to double by 2018, when the wearables population reaches 81.7 million users.

People wear these accessories or clothing at least once per month embedded with Internet-connected electronics and exchange data with a manufacturer or other connected device. Older Americans are expected to drive wearable growth when wearable health monitoring devices are available.

Conclusion

The challenge for UX professionals in this new mobile world is not just about building mobile apps or responsive websites that look great, but designing complete, seamless experiences for the user.

This is where usability testing can make a real difference by providing an insight into real world environments and real people so you can measure, manage and improve the performance of your digital assets.