Three (only?) justifications for mobile apps

There’s a reason why they (Apps) are popular on mobile:

  • they are highly contextual and
  • take big advantage of the phones main functionalities, be it geolocation, camera or just voice and sound.
  • They are also aimed at repeated use in small chunks of time.

Jean-Baptiste Coger: Why you shouldn’t bother creating a mobile app.

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Micro Moments

Early in 2015, Google released a set of articles on what they call “micro-moments”. (…)

I-want-to-know moments

You’re at home with a nice free evening. What shall you do now? Ah! You feel like watching something. So, you want to get to the position where you can choose which movie to watch. You want to know the answer more than anything! So, you’ve just gone online to see. Here, you’re thinking with “the Google initiative”—that is, you’re searching or browsing to find out what’s hot, perhaps seeing what’s not-so-hot as you go down the reviews. You want to know which movie would be the best fit tonight.

I-want-to-go moments

You’ve decided on seeing the latest action blockbuster movie, but where? This is when you want to see what’s “Near me”.

I-want-to-do moments

You may want to learn about a process, service, or product. If you’ve ever gone on YouTube to see what others say about products, or just wanted to see how to do a job (e.g., DIY); that is where to learn. If your motorcycle won’t start and you “sort of” know what’s wrong, YouTube can show what you need. We’ll worry about which company’s motorcycle part in the next micro-moment!

I-want-to-buy moments

Your “final micro-moment” might have you start by watching any of over 1 million YouTube videos as you zero-in on which motorcycle part is the most reliable/best value before making the buy. If we’ve gone to the movie theater, maybe a friend shows us the trailer of another movie. Finding it better, you’re “sold” on seeing that instead. Congratulations, you’ve completed the process.

 

From: Muriel Garreta Domingo: Micro-moments: Are you designing for them?

Ellis: Information Gathering Behaviour

Ellis (1987, 1989) carried out a study in which he used semi-structured interviews for data collection and Glaser and Strauss’s grounded theory for data analysis. His research resulted in a pattern of information-seeking behavior among social scientists that included six generic features:

  • Starting: comprising those activities characteristic of the initial search for information such as identifying references that could serve as starting points of the research cycle. These references often include sources that have been used before as well as sources that are expected to provide relevant information. Asking colleagues or consulting literature reviews, online catalogs, and indexes and abstracts often initiate starting activities.
  • Chaining: following chains of citations or other forms of referential connection between materials or sources identified during “starting” activities. Chaining can be backward or forward. Backward chaining takes place when references from an initial source are followed. In the reverse direction, forward chaining identifies, and follows up on, other sources that refer to an original source.
  • Browsing: casually looking for information in areas of potential interest. It not only includes scanning of published journals and tables of contents but also of references and abstracts of printouts from retrospective literature searches.
  • Differentiating: using known differences (e.g., author and journal hierarchies or nature and quality of information) between sources as a way of filtering the amount of information obtained.
  • Monitoring: keeping abreast of developments in an area by regularly following particular sources (e.g., core journals, newspapers, conferences, magazines, books, and catalogs).
  • Extracting: activities associated with going through a particular source or sources and selectively identifying relevant material from those sources (e.g., sets of journals, series of monographs, collections of indexes, abstracts or bibliographies, and computer databases).

Lokman I. Meho & Helen R. Tibbo: Modeling the Information-Seeking Behavior of Social Scientists: Ellis’s Study Revisited (PDF)

 

In other words … (Ellis 1993?):

  1. Starting: identifying sources of interest.
  2. Chaining: following leads from an initial source.
  3. Browsing: scanning documents or sources for interesting information.
  4. Differentiating: assessing and organising sources.
  5. Monitoring: keeping up-to-date on an area of interest by tracking new developments in known sources such as journals.
  6. Extracting: identifying (and using) material of interest in sources.
  7. Verifying: checking the accuracy and reliability of information.
  8. Ending: concluding activities.

The Anatomy of an Addictive App

1. Trigger: Whether internal or external, the trigger is the tactic you employ to bring users to your app. External triggers, such as push notifications, come from within the app and prompt user action, while internal triggers are abstract and psychological, creating emotional responses like a fear of missing out or the desire to avoid frustrating experiences like going into a physical store.

2. Action: The action is what you want your customers to do after they respond to a trigger. To prompt the right action, designers need to consider the frame of mind users are in after reacting to the trigger: What’s motivating them, and which specific trigger caused their entry?

3. Reward: The reward is what users receive after taking action. Perhaps it’s an entertaining story to share with someone, a cure for their boredom, a discount they’ve unlocked, or a purchased product.

4. Investment: When your app promotes frequent, focused attention, you create a high level of user investment. The time someone spends building a profile—while perhaps earning loyalty points as a reward—creates a subconscious desire to justify the time spent through continual use.

Originally from Nir Eyal, referenced by Bobby Emamian

10 service design heuristics

Our Ten Service Design Heuristics

1. Address Real Need

Solve people’s problems while providing value that feels like it’s worth the effort. Base service models on needs identified from contextual research with people.

2. Clarity of Service Offering

Provide a clear service offering in familiar terms. Actors should easily grasp if a service is right for them and what they are trying to deliver.

3. Build Lasting Relationships

The service system should support appropriate interactions, allow for flexibility of use, and foster ongoing relationships. The right level of engagement supports an evolving service experience.

4. Leverage Existing Resources

Consider the whole system and what existing parts could be used to better deliver the service. Find opportunities to augment, repurpose, or redeploy resources.

5. Actor Autonomy and Freedom

The service ecosystem should fit around the habits of those involved. Do not expect people to adapt their life or work styles to suit the service model.

6. Graceful Entry and Exit

Provide flexible, natural entry and exit points to and from the service. Consider when it is appropriate for actors to jump in, or to achieve closure.

7. Set Expectations

Let actors know succinctly what to expect. Assist understanding of where they are in the system through the design of environments and information.

8. The Right Information at the Right Time

Tell the actors of the system what they need to know with the right level of detail at the right time. Weigh the costs and benefits of providing more or less precise information.

9. Consistency Across Channels at any Scale

Continuity of brand, experience, and information should exist across the entire service system. Actors should be able to seamlessly move across channels.

10. Appropriate Pace and Rhythm of Delivery

All actors should experience and provide the service at a suitable and sustainable pace.

 

Usability Matters

How to Create Successful Mobile Experiences

Who

Who is your target user? Basic user demographics like age and gender are a must, but try to go beyond that— think about their desires, ambitions, obstacles, and pet peeves. Creating user personas for each of your expected types of users can help answer this question and design a better mobile experience.

What

What does your target user need or want that they cannot currently get at all or get easily? What are you considering to offer via mobile experiences to give the user what they want? Whatever you are offering should be related to your business but should focus on what is important most to the user.

Why

Why are users going to use your mobile solution? Your app should fulfill a need or want they have (in other words, it answers the “What” question). There needs to be a difference dramatic enough between using your app and the “next best thing” for them to bother remembering your URL or downloading your app.

When

When are your users most likely to engage with your mobile solution? And how often? The “When” can be in absolute terms (e.g. between 7PM and 10PM on weekdays, etc.) or in relative terms (during a workout, an hour after dinner, etc.) You should consider times of engagement to create an optimal experience for your user.

Where

Where are users most likely to engage with your app? Are there location-driven opportunities and challenges that exist? For example, monitoring swimming performance sounds great, but users can’t use a regular smartphone without adding some waterproof peripherals. On the other hand, mobile comparison shopping is likely to happen in retail stores and might be facilitated by barcode scanning or QR code reading capability, etc.

How

How are you going to reach your users? Once you have characterized your users by understanding the answers to all of the questions above you can understand how to effectively reach them.

There’s just one complication: for each answer to the “Who” Question, you need to answer each of the other questions. In other words, if you have two or more user types who represent distinctly different market segments, you have to answer all of the above questions for each of them to understand their needs in order to successfully create a great mobile experience that meets those needs.

 

By Alex Asianov