5 Tips for Reducing the Risk of Mobile Development

We have a number of clients ranging from start-ups, to £billion businesses that are all at various stages in their mobile lives. It is amazing that 15 years on from the first mobile internet technology, we are still trying to solve the challenge of creating seamless customer experiences using mobile.

We have 5 tips for reducing your risk when developing for mobile...

1. Consider the whole customer experience

It sounds obvious, but knowing how your customers behave and interact with your brand will guide your mobile strategy. Identify your audience segments and gain an understanding of their behaviours, to identify opportunities and pain points.

We would encourage you to engage with third parties, to gain a view of your business from the outside. Even something as simple as a poll in the street, is valuable and can be very revealing in regards to your customer's experience. Use these experiences (ideally a combination of qualitative and quantitative data) to create a holistic picture of the potential touchpoints, both offline and online in a customer's experience. All your mobile decisions should be mapped back to this holistic picture.

Design Meeting

2. Go responsive in chunks

Mobile first doesn't mean desktop with things taken off. The context of the user experience and the way in which devices play a role in the user journey, means there is new thinking and new behaviours to accommodate. However if our clients were to start again with their UX thinking from a mobile first perspective, there would be a potentially high cost associated.

Instead we are advocates of looking at where the user experience drives the most value to the business and making a start from there. We would start by replacing only these things first, running the rest of the web experience in parallel to these findings.

This approach also allows for better testing as the traffics is split between mobile and desktop experiences. Add enhancements to your tablet/desktop experience and send small amounts on traffic to that journey to measure and iterate. Your customers want to feel you are listening to them, so deliver, measure, iterate and improve in small stages -- so they can see you are listening and value their feedback.

3. Mobile hack days

A few of our teams recently took part in a Code Hack Competition, HackManchester -- to build a working and marketable product in just 24 hours.

LADBible amongst other brands set the challenges. The task was to create a social involvement app for LADBible 'uber for volunteers' and as the brief was so simple, it offered a range of potential solutions. This is an important point -- don't constrain innovation by being prescriptive with solution. Instead you should define the problem you'd like to be solved -- there's more than one way to skin a cat!

With no designs made upfront and just a few discussions on ideas, within 24 hours the team used MVP principles to deliver a working solution. There solution was to help connect charities and volunteers with the clever integration of social media. They went further than the challenge initially set out, they created an admin section, which would allow charities to enter their bespoke information and opportunities.

What did the team say (apart from being very tired and wired on caffeine?) ... We added some extra features to the journey, that didn't necessarily need to be there for an MVP. These are the bells and whistles that everyone thinks they need, but in fact are just nice-to-have's, that add to the user's journey.

Hack Manchester

4. Mobile design sprints

There is great value in getting a set of specialists together for a short amount of time. The process works by getting UX, design and Front End Developers together to analyse a problem, shortlist, prototype, test then prototype again, to deliver something tangible and of worth, in just a 5 day period of time.

The benefits of this approach allows for real time testing, so issues and problems can be solved in real time as they occur. We've worked with numerous start-ups on developing prototypes, which is initially done at a fixed cost with the aim of achieving a predetermined deliverable. This is something we measured and analyse for next stage investment.

The message here, is if you have a hypothesis, try it out as quickly and simply as you can, to validate before you head into product development. Use data to drive the value and priority of your product development.

5. It's more than just MVP

MVP and moving fast, requires some challenging skill sets, the right talent is critical to working in a fast and iterative way.

The process of delivery is also important. Use delivery mechanics to feedback faster and iterate quickly. So, instead of monthly releases, focus on daily releases or even hourly releases. This allows for assessment of each element and overall reduces costs to your business.

It is also important to assess and set really strong KPI's upfront. We use business performance dashboards, to allow us to assess performance against the success criteria in real time. This also allows us to pick up any issues immediately, before a customer even feels the pain point.

In our years of building for mobile, the key thing we have learnt is building things is easy, but, building the right things is hard.

Creating a seamless customer experience

When developing for mobile, it is important to focus on creating seamless customer experiences. It is important to consider a customer's whole experience, by gaining an early understanding of their interaction with the product you are building. Accommodating consumers' behaviour takes time and its best to test and gain feedback throughout, to ensure you produce a successful solution.


Placing a digital platform at the heart of organisational change with Oxfam