By David Wierbiki
User Experience (UX) is Driven by Mobile Needs Across the Industry
As companies realize they need a stronger mobile presence to stay relevant and current with today’s and the future's online needs, they’re turning to UX professionals to guide them or lead them in the endeavor. Many organizations are still trapped in the quagmire of legacy applications that were built specifically with a single browser to support or were built with outdated layout and coding practices that simply do not scale with today’s current user needs. These organizations can certainly benefit from a UX overhaul, but their hands are largely tied until they opt to rewrite or re-platform their site or application.UX is not simply about the layout and colors of a site, but with the overall experience that a user will have while using a particular site or application. It is not limited to a company’s brochure style site, but extends into every aspect of a user’s experience interacting with a company’s products or brand. Workflows and decision making processes that will define where and how the user interacts are paramount for the end user to have an interactive experience leaving them satisfied and returning without dread. Rest assured that a poor experience will lead to loss of return customers and negative word of mouth advertising that could cripple or outright destroy a site, product or service.
Can’t Our In-House Developers Just "Wing It"?
Until the last couple of years, companies have gotten by without utilizing UX professionals or by bringing in web designers to handle the look and feel. However, web design is not user experience. It is certainly a part of it, but look and feel does not fully encompass the research, interviews, usability testing, workflows, information architecture, personas and discovery sessions that give the UX professional the ammunition they require to accomplish the project goals.
The UX professional cannot do the development work that a developer would do (and a developer cannot do the work that the UX professional can do). They can each dabble in what the other does to be sure, but they cannot fulfill the complete needs that the other provides to a project. Winging it may look good on paper and bottom lines but over the course of a project, the end results will fall short from a total win.
Why Mobile Needs Are Driving User Experience
First let's define what “mobile needs” means. Mobile needs in a nutshell encompass the user, look-and-feel, device size, and workflows. There are additional needs to be sure but these are the high level must haves. The number of considerations with any of these high-level items is growing on a yearly, monthly and even weekly basis as new technologies, platforms and devices are introduced into the wild for consumption by end users. Keeping up with all of it requires up-to-date industry knowledge and constant schooling of the latest and greatest design trends, studies, news and the skills to bring them all together for a project.
Mobile, responsive design and app creation have experienced great strides and horrible failures over the last few years. Earlier in 2015, Google introduced a different search result experience for mobile users versus desktop users. The reason was to ensure the mobile user has a good online experience regardless of the device they are currently on. A user should be able to have an experience on any device that will net them the same result at the end of their experience. But why is this important?
Our world is becoming more mobile by the day. A rapidly growing mobile user base is turning to their mobile device instead of their desktop or laptop. Their mobile device (phone, phablet, watch or tablet) is either in their pocket or purse and readily accessible. Their desktop or laptop is on a desk, at home or at work and not as accessible to them as their mobile device. Convenience drives the basic user. Sitting on the couch and wondering about just about anything is as easy as tapping the search into a mobile device’s search features or browser search.
This trend is not going to fade away either. It will increase and eventually become the default go to over the desktop or laptop. For some it already is.
This a great for the UX professional and the industry as a whole as it will mean better sites, applications and overall a marked improvement in the internet experience itself. Taking a mobile first approach to any site or application will give the end users an easier time and result in greater conversions and profits for businesses across the board.
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