Ways to Improve Your Smartphone Offering.

A bad mobile experience can turn away customers for good, which is why professionals are well-advised to evaluate and optimize the user experience they offer. There are several ways to improve Customer Experience (CX) and we will take a look at the concept of mobile usability testing and the new breed of services available to help companies in the creation of great mobile experiences.

Customer Expectations – Why it’s important to have a great mobile experience

In a trend which Forrester Research refers to as the ‘mobile mind shift’, the rapid increase in the use of smartphones for day-to-day tasks fuels increasingly demanding customer expectations. According to Forrester, 62% of customers who look for a company on their smartphone will expect to find a mobile-friendly website; 42% expect a company to have a mobile app and 23% expect their experience to be relevant to context (e.g. location).

Expectations go beyond just having a mobile presence; customers expect you to provide them with a great mobile experience. Customers love the ease and speed of well-designed mobile platforms while faulty links, slow-loading pages and site errors will only serve to frustrate users. Also, as a result of user experience errors Google now demotes mobile web page rankings in its search results, making it harder for mobile customers to find your site.

There’s a direct correlation between the quality of service you deliver and customer loyalty but a company will only get these benefits if they deliver a quality mobile experience.

Designing a great mobile user experience – The role of usability testing

The right customer interactions don’t just happen; they must be actively designed. A typical design process will begin with research to understand customer needs and motivation. Next, design teams create artefacts like personas and customer journey maps to synthesise and communicate their research findings. In the ideate phase, teams brainstorm ways to solve the problems at hand before creating prototypes of possible solutions.

Then comes the testing phase. At this point, prototypes go out a number of times in front of real customers for feedback. Designers take the feedback from each round of testing and incorporate it into increasingly refined prototypes.

Usability testing is a core part of the testing phase for any digital interaction point. It uncovers how easy it is for users to accomplish basic tasks on your app / mobile website, highlights errors and assesses overall customer satisfaction.

Traditional lab-based mobile usability testing versus the new breed of services

Traditionally, usability testing has been conducted in a lab, with researchers overseeing the user sessions. Moderators prompt users through a series of tasks, observing how they interact with a given product.

Lab-based testing can prove beneficial for many studies, but when it comes to mobile testing the method can be quite problematic. The handheld, touchscreen nature of phones / tablets makes it difficult for researchers to observe what users are doing / saying while simultaneously observing touches on the screen.

Researchers have made efforts to develop more practical ways of conducting mobile usability testing in the lab, devising tools which can anchor a device in close proximity to a video camera, to help the documentation of activity.

These work-arounds are far from ideal. Due to the strict positioning of the device and user, interactions can be unnatural. Another problem with these methods is that they don’t accommodate today’s changing mobile landscape, which is characterized by the following four trends:

     1. Faster cycle times: people frequently upgrade their phones and new operating systems are released annually. Testing needs to be fast-paced to keep up with technology, a factor that can be difficult to achieve in a lab setting.

     2. Relentless device permutations: Android / iOS / Windows, screen size and resolution, portrait / landscape orientation, differing network speeds. All of these factors must be taken into consideration. A user experience can vary depending on device specification, so it’s important to test multiple types of devices. The lab environment doesn’t accommodate this very easily.

     3. Mobile means anytime, anywhere: Consumers access the internet via their phones from a wide variety of locations. The lab environment is no longer representative of all the different places / ways in which mobile phones are used, nor is it representative of what a typical mobile interaction looks like.

     4. Agile design and development: Testing is done over many rounds. The lab environment can be time consuming / expensive.

Because of these issues, some companies choose to skip the testing process altogether. But, it doesn’t have to be this way.

A new breed of usability testing services have emerged which are far more viable. Through unmoderated remote user testing, researchers can send pre-prepared tasks out to large, geographically dispersed participant groups, who use their personal devices in a natural setting. As well as being cost-effective, this enables researchers to collect valuable feedback, including both qualitative and quantitative data.

The latest services enable researchers to address the challenges of the mobile landscape. Testing can be completed in a few weeks, or even days, making it easier to keep up with cycle times, while remote solutions fuel testing with more customer segments. As participants are tested ‘in the wild’, tasks are completed more naturally, yielding better results.

Conclusion

As technology evolves, so too do customers’ expectations. People want to be able to use their smartphones to perform tasks quickly and effectively, at any time, from any location. If you can’t offer a great mobile experience, users will take their custom elsewhere. This is why it’s vital to deliver a service that meets customer expectations, and can adapt in line with the changing mobile landscape. Usability testing services can help you achieve this goal and proactively elevate the user experience.


For more information on harnessing mobile usability testing to improve your mobile experience, watch our webinar Harness Mobile Usability Testing to Improve Your Mobile Experience. You can also check out our free guide to Mobile user experience research.