In so many cases, user experience (UX) is what differentiates companies that win in the digital world from the rest.. Apple’s products, for instance, are known to combine intuitive design and efficiency to provide a powerful user experience. Two key aspects of a compelling UX are performance and convenience.
Let’s talk about the importance of performance. In a recent study, Google reported that the average load time for mobile sites is 19 seconds over 3G connections and that 53% of mobile site visits were abandoned if pages take more than 3 seconds to load. That means that over half of these mobile customers are bailing out because they find the performance unacceptable. What can we conclude from this data? There is a HUGE opportunity for those who can deliver good performance!
Traditionally, performance strategies focused on improving response times or in making desktop applications as fast as possible. In addition to speed, there are a number of other parameters that should be considered to deliver engaging user experiences. Here are five ways in which your organization can re-imagine its UX performance strategy to create an application that is convenient, engaging and responsive for your customers.
#1: Test the resource consumption of your application
Mobile penetration continues to grow across most markets. While the responsiveness and intuitiveness of your application are imperative to keep users engaged, it is also important to understand the impact of your application on the device’s resources such as battery, CPU and memory utilization. There is no greater dis-incentive to user adoption than creating apps that are battery hogs. (In other words, don’t end up on a Top 10 Battery Drainer list.)
#2: Test across platforms
While mobile commerce and payment transactions continue to gain traction, it is important to look at various platforms holistically. For instance, a customer may start browsing your e-commerce site using her phone, then she may continue her research online on a desktop at her workplace and finally end up buying the product on a tablet. You need to design your application with these diverse platforms in mind.
#3: Measure real user experience
While your application may perform great in the lab, keep in mind that real world scenarios are far more complex and demand more thorough validation. Because users access your applications from different browsers, platforms and geographical locations, application pages should be rendered in different ways and speeds depending on the browser or platform. If this is overlooked, users are likely to experience latencies that significantly impact their ability to run applications, depending on their geographical location.
Winning companies in the digital economy recognize this challenge; ride-sharing service Ola Cabs, for instance, has designed its app to support 2G connections for its Indian customers. This is very helpful to customers who do not have the best of network connectivity but yet still need a cab-on-demand service. Facebook Lite is another example of an app designed specifically to cater to users in the emerging economies. Use Real-User Monitoring tools [such as New Relic, AppDynamics] to gather data on your customer’s preferences to improve their experience on a regular basis.
#4: Make IT resilient
While you are strengthening the front end user experience, foolproof your back-end infrastructure at the same time. As IT applications become increasingly complex, even a small glitch in a component can cause a catastrophic failure. Adopt a ‘fail-fast’ attitude to identify the most vulnerable points of your infrastructure in the testing labs to prevent major issues from happening in production. The recent catastrophic outages of Delta Airlines and Southwest Airlines are very good arguments for resilient engineering.
#5: Test your edge cases
Consumers don’t use applications in isolation. There is usually more than one application being accessed at the same time. For instance, customers use your application while they’re listening to music, browsing through social media forums, and potentially navigating directions at the same time. Let’s consider the following scenario: A user is on a train and tries to initiate a payment transaction using her smartphone and while the payment transaction is underway, there is a sudden drop on the phone network leaving the user in limbo — how do you ensure a seamless experience? Holistic performance strategy needs to recognize such ‘edge’ cases and prepare in advance.
Today’s mobile consumers have little patience for poorly performing applications and demand instant gratification. And you only have one chance to make a first impression. Winning in the digital era requires organizations to reimagine their performance strategy to deliver a truly enriched User Experience. Please contact me with any questions or comments about this blog. I’d like to hear from you.