Why Simplicity First Is The Key To Digital Innovation

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Digital products are successful not because they are impressive, but because users can understand them.

Just a few months ago, the Mobile World Congress – the premier meeting place of the industry’s leading lights – proclaimed ‘Mobile is Everywhere’, but maybe it should have been ‘Mobile Users are Everywhere’.

Mobile World Congress actually captured both the importance of mobile generally, and a lot of what is wrong with the industry. Virtual Reality was a big theme at the show, with everyone from HTC to Samsung showing off their VR credentials.

These were the most powerful and innovative VR experiences available – hugely impressive stuff. That didn’t change the fact that quite a few people were left nauseous when using these headsets. This is a perfect example of putting the technology before the user; adding functionality for the sakes of a spec sheet rather than any real user benefit.

Don’t confuse the user

In the mobile market, speed is key. Innovation dictates that in the mobile sphere product life cycles are short. Today’s cutting edge is dull tomorrow. If you don’t market your innovation first then the person next to you will; you snooze you lose.

Between the ‘snazziest of all’ features and the ‘next killer app’, it is therefore easy to forget that real people will ultimately use your product.  If the app is confusing and not easily navigable it will quickly become a source of frustration for the user, and will likely lead to a quick uninstall.

The importance of creating a fluid user experience cannot be underestimated when bringing new mobile innovations to market. Possessing all the latest updates is rendered irrelevant if you haven’t taken your audience into account.

It is crucial that every business, regardless of its size should know its customer base inside out. Customer intelligence is fundamental in identifying which features your customers love using on your products and get new customers to buy it.

It’s important to remember that the feature is a means to an end – a good feature or function solves a problem or meets a need. These are the ones that sell products and keep customers coming back. Mobile users ‘talk’ a lot to businesses about their likes and dislikes.

It is important to learn, listen and incorporate feedback into product design, in order to provide a better user experience.

Focus on what the user wants

As mobile users we are savvy and we are demanding. We are also constantly bombarded with the ‘next big thing’ that will change our world. As such, we have developed filtering systems to spot the products and services that we feel would add value and isolate them from the ‘noise’.

User experience has become a key differentiator of the ‘good stuff’ from the ‘noise’. Businesses need to fully understand user experience and what it entails.

To understand this, they must get to grips with what the mobile user is actually doing. As opposed to just focusing on individual aspects (ie. web app or mobile app) businesses will see more success if they work back from the overall experience.

We as users have a number of devices we use interchangeably. If your app isn’t consistent on iPad when compared with PC, it’s jarring and detracts from the overall experience.

This means taking advantage of tools and solutions that create consistent and personalised experiences across whatever screen is being used and making sure all the great features run seamlessly.

In other words: are the core functions of the product fit for purpose? Does the system allow the user to do things easily and efficiently? Is it visually attractive and engaging? And perhaps most importantly, what is its added-value?

Think about the big picture

User experience is the crux of digital transformation. We often hear that CIOs or Chief Digital Officers (DIOs) or CMOs drive digital transformation in an organisation. However, it is crucial to understand the role the user plays in shaping the direction of product development.

Any good digital transformation strategy must take into account the user feedback, testing and a system management program in order to provide the technology that will benefit the end user.

This means that there are no plug and play solutions for knowing what will work and what needs to be changed. Getting the user experience right, however, will be crucial in providing accessible technology for the mobile user.

Source: Mark Armstrong - Minute Hack

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