Personalization is Key to Successful Mobile UX
User experience is essential to mobile app adoption and retention.
Join the DZone community and get the full member experience.Join For Free
A marketer can barely get through the day without stumbling across at least one blog extolling the virtues of ‘personalizing the online user experience’, but few actually spell out why website owners should do it or how.
Personalization is far more than simply offering a welcoming experience. It’s centered on customizing the user’s experience on your website according to his or her own tastes, preferences and interests.
Apps need to differentiate from the other 1.2 million apps in the app store, in addition to the other apps on each user’s device - which is roughly 26 on average. Even with 50 million mobile apps downloaded every day, user attrition is at an all-time high ― 95% of apps are abandoned within a month, 1 in 4 are abandoned after a single day. That leaves an elite 5% of apps that are able to hook users.
Apps that demonstrate staying power and retain users for as long as a month are clearly doing something right: in order to end up in the 5% of apps that survive, developers must design an app that is sticky and that provides an immediate solution to a user’s problem or need. Doing this effectively involves an understanding of what those problems and needs are.
This is incredibly daunting. Users care most about apps that deliver value and functionality in frictionless, intuitive ways. They desire apps that make their lives easier, richer and less annoying so that they can focus on what they really want to do. Only those apps that deliver personalized experiences that fit into the context of their users’ day-to-day lives will succeed.
Contextual data is critical to delivering the most relevant and valuable experiences to users in real-time, as well as driving global optimization of an app to suit the entire app audience better.
Mobile phones have witnessed an increased emphasis placed on user personalization. Far from the black and white screens and monophonic ringtones of the past, phones now offer interactive wallpapers and MP3 TruTones. Video Graphics Array (VGA) picture quality allows people to change their background with ease without sacrificing quality. All of these services are downloaded through the provider with the goal to make the user feel connected to the phone.
Why Take the Personalization Route?
Offering users easy-to-navigate sites that help them quickly find products and services they are genuinely interested in, without wading through piles of content that’s of no interest whatsoever, greatly benefits businesses too.
Higher conversion rates: Personalizing the user experience allows website owners to target the right audiences and attract genuine prospects. Why waste time flaunting your wares to an audience that isn’t, and never will be, interested in your products or services?
Increased revenue: Attracting real prospects and solid leads will translate into more sales.
User retention: Personalization results in more return visits, helps businesses create a loyal customer base and also encourages word-of-mouth recommendations – the most valuable form of marketing you can get.
Human touch: Personalizing the user experience helps replicate the human to human interaction customers enjoy when buying offline, such as in-store or over the telephone. To offer that sort of personalization, you not only need user data, you need to know what data to analyse and how to use it.
Benefits of UX Research
User research is a highly challenging and important discipline. Some of the biggest IT companies as well as startups have utilized it to make their products attractive for their end users. In fact, Google has its own user experience (UX) research product, one in which users can volunteer to aid researchers in bettering their products. Despite its importance and popularity, UX research is still a mystery to many people. They fail to comprehend the full import of user research in the product cycle.
The iOS human interface guidelines by Apple is an eye-opener. The first two principles read thus: “Focus on the primary task,” and “Elevate the content that users care about.” Those directives hit the nail on the head, in more ways than one.
There are an entire array of customer needs, requirements and demands that have to be delved into, well before the app is designed. For app designers, user research is also about having empathy for the target users. Experts opine that it is next to impossible to devise a product that can satisfy users, in the absence of empathy.
From Customize to Personalize
Customization of experiences became more difficult with mobile devices, largely because of screen size and gesture-heavy interfaces. Concepts in interface design—such as sliding screens, scalers, and scrollers—were challenging in customization efforts.
Going beyond colors, in the context of web design, buttons, and fonts there really isn't much you can do. Compared with desktop web interfaces, there isn't a lot of flexibility in creating custom designed interfaces for each and every user on that small mobile screen.
Thought patterns need to make a shift as well, and that’s what is driving the trend toward personalization. While this type of tailoring has been a mainstay of desktop web interfaces for some time, pioneered by such ecommerce giants as Amazon, this has only recently become important on mobile devices.
For example, Amazon knows a lot about their customers from their purchase history as well as other sources, so they can personalize and offer their customers customized special offers, personalizing the user experience from the very beginning and helping to make the company the king of ecommerce. This kind of personalization not only brings value to customers but also increases loyalty.
Personalizing Mobile UX: The Rules
Personalized Content: A key step in creating an experience that is personalized is to put your visitors into groups so that the app will present users with content that is highly relevant.
Personalized Recommendations: A customer in Florida wouldn't be offered a winter coat, while someone in New York City would. Say a user purchased baby shoes during their last visit. How about a designer bib? A matching hat for wintertime?
Push Notifications: Cache, a specialty women's retailer, gives users the option to opt-in to receive push notifications to their mobile, offering them discounts at nearby stores, as well as promotions based on their past shopping activity.
Location-Based Personalization: Online retailers with a mobile presence utilize their user's location to personalize the experience. Say a user is at the gym, a mobile app can offer them a special deal at the store around the corner.
Personalizing mobile experience requires movement on many fronts. Look at what others are doing, track your own users’ engagement, and get creative. Plan your mobile app personalization with the user in mind will help your users realize the most ultimate mobile user experience and bring them back to your app.
Opinions expressed by DZone contributors are their own.