Web Vs Mobile User Experience: Designing With Intent

Mobile-User-Experience

User experience is everything these days. Customers respond more strongly to better buying experiences than lower prices, and a bad experience will send them to a competitor faster than a higher price.

User experience is especially important when designing user interfaces.

In the rush to create a mobile presence, though, some companies push responsive website options that translate into awkward mobile interfaces.

Others choose overly simple websites that read well on mobile but don’t provide the features users want.

Designing for web and mobile are two entirely different processes.

The best results can be realized by focusing on why consumers use each platform.

Centering User Experience

User experience is more than window dressing. It’s fast becoming the biggest brand differentiator for customers flooded with similarly-priced offerings.

Making it the core design goal increases customer satisfaction, prevents churn, and boosts revenue.

That’s not hyperbole, either. A 2016 study found that designing an intuitive user interface can lead to a 200% rise in conversion rates.

Some sites have realized as much as a 400% increase by emphasizing user experience.

On the other hand, bad UX has a disproportionately large effect.

38% of web users leave a page within a minute if the design or layout isn’t appealing.

More than half of mobile users lose confidence in a company as a whole if the mobile experience is bad.

40% of all platform users abandon a page that takes more than three seconds to load.

Statistics like this suggest that while users do appreciate value, a pleasant and productive experience is now their main goal.

This year 84% of global companies will respond to this demand by increasing their focus on user experience.

Difference Tools for Different Purposes

Smartphones and other mobile devices have grown as powerful as computers once were.

Still, they’re used very differently than desktop and laptop computers.

Consumers often switch devices throughout the day based on their current intent.

Mobile device activity peaks in the morning and evening, when people are preparing for their day or unwinding from work.

It’s preferred for image or location-based social media platforms. When searching on mobile, users are highly focused.

They want quick answers to specific questions.

94% of smartphone owners use it to find local businesses, and 55% of mobile conversions happen within an hour.

There are some technical considerations when designing for mobile: smaller screens, variable signal, limited battery life, and the requirement that all interaction be done via touchscreen or voice.

The average user doesn’t make much allowance for these limitations, though.

They expect a high quality experience every time they open an app or a mobile page.

Mobile priorities:

  • Accuracy
  • Intuitive navigation
  • Availability
  • Speed
  • Location and mapping features

Desktops and laptops are used most often during the day (with an exception for late-night gaming).

Consumers like to take their time on the web, performing casual searches to satisfy their curiosity about a brand or simply browsing.

They have more patience for deep research and longer reads.

Social media sites lean towards the text based, and users might switch from their phone to post a lengthy rant or product review.

Taken as a whole, desktop site visits last three times longer than mobile hits.

Web doesn’t carry the same technical limitations as mobile.

Computer screens are as large as users want to make them, and there are fewer battery or connectivity concerns.

However, web has much higher expectations for quality and performance.

Potential customers want to see everything they could possibly want to know about a company on a website, and when they can’t find information they become frustrated.

Web priorities:

  • Intuitive navigation
  • Depth of information
  • Galleries and video
  • Current contact information
  • Fast response to customer service requests

Tailoring the UI

Speed and performance are important regardless of device. The first pageload is the primary chance to catch a user’s attention.

Keeping visitors on-site longer raises the chances of conversion, so aim for short load times and design which makes navigation simple.

Of course, this has to be done in different ways for web and mobile.

Mobile devices are usually held vertically, meaning the design needs to be narrow and read well when scrolling.

The landscape orientation of web offers more room for highlighting different features.

Now for the specifics:

Mobile

  • Follow device conventions for swiping and tapping to take advantage of what users already expect.
  • Be careful about embedded video and high-res images. They increase load times and can send the bounce rate skyrocketing when too many are used.
  • Make allowances for variable touchscreen input. Finger size and device precision can vary, so leave room for taps outside the target box and don’t crowd buttons close together.
  • Avoid cluttered rows of drop-down menus.
  • When presenting content, emphasize contrast. Users may be outside where sunlight makes viewing the screen difficult; clear lettering wins more points than exotic fonts. Designers can also use larger type and greater line height to provide more leeway when tapping links.
  • Prioritize the most-searched content near the top, where it’s easy to find.

Web

  • Dropdown menus are a favorite way to put more information on the front page without creating a cluttered look. When overused, though, they read as dated. Consider using a longer main page that appeals to browsers with a row of shortcuts to common features at the top.
  • Use large pictures and video to take advantage of the larger screen. Disable autoplay on inactive windows, though. Users tend to keep up to a dozen tabs open at once while browsing, and they often close out a tab which plays audio over the page they’re reading.
  • Use dynamic features, mixed fonts, and plenty of space to break up large text blocks.
  • Always, always, always provide easy-to-locate contact information. Three quarters of users list “lack of sufficient contact options” as their main complaint about enterprise websites. Consider using a chatbot to direct customer feedback to the right department.

A Final Note

User experience is highly subjective. Every company unique, and their customer base may respond differently than expected.

These guidelines are a good start, but there’s no real substitution for user testing and adjusting to customer feedback.

Mobile App Development Company in Orlando

Concepta, a renowned Orlando mobile developer, has seen major returns for clients who prioritize user experience.

When we worked with tourism service company Kingdom Strollers to create a new client portal, we made sure every client-facing feature was designed to be both intuitive and functional.

Since putting the new system into operation Kingdom Strollers has seen a 40% rise in revenue year over year.  

A developer’s success is measured by the success of their clients. That’s why Concepta focuses on powering the kind of top-notch user experience that gets our clients maximum results. Set up a complimentary consultation to explore how to boost your UX- and your revenue!

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The Dos and Don’ts of Scalable Architecture

Design-Scalable-Architecture

Scalability is having its moment in the sun. After being dismissed as something to think about down the road, leaders have begun to realize how important it is to plan for scalability from the start. This strategy puts companies in a solid position to take advantage of unexpected growth without taking a hit to service quality.

As scalability grows in importance, some common themes are beginning to emerge. Companies are realizing their legacy architecture is too rigid to handle a sudden increase in workload, and adjusting for growth is more expensive than they’d planned.

Read on to find out where they’re going wrong and how to learn from their mistakes.

Principles of Scalability

Simply put, scalability is the ability of a system to handle sudden changes in workload without negatively impacting performance. It’s usually broken down into three areas.

  • Availability: The system should be available for use as much as possible (ideally, always). Uptime percentage has the most immediate effect on customer experience. After all, it doesn’t matter how useful an application is if no one can access it.
  • Performance: The system must maintain a high level of performance even under heavy loads. Speed is critical to providing a good user experience, and customer experience is fast becoming the most important factor in preventing churn.
  • Reliability: The system must accurately store, retrieve, and edit data under stress. It should return the most current data on request without defaulting to old or inaccurate data or failing to record new data. Unlike availability and performance, reliability builds good customer experiences in the long run rather than just in the moment.

How to Design Scalable Architecture

Rather than focusing on specific brands or tools, keep a set of design principles in mind.

Don’t use vertical scaling

Vertical scaling is scaling by adding more powerful resources (ie, more RAM). It’s secure and fast under light loads, but it does not scale well at all. More powerful equipment is increasingly more expensive, and there’s only so high it can scale. Plus, vertical scaling tends to lock companies into technology without an easy path to modernization. It’s unavoidable sometimes- especially when dealing with many atomic transactions or high-grade security concerns- but whenever possible don’t scale up.

Do favor horizontal scaling

Horizontal scaling involves adding more nodes to a distributed network (ie, adding another server) rather than more powerful nodes. It’s the fastest, most cost-effective way to scale since increasing its capacity is as simple as increasing the size of the network.

Don’t default to physical servers

Physical servers are only really valuable for multinational companies with high security requirements and a lot of usable capital. For the vast majority of companies, they’re a waste of time and money. Servers are expensive to build, maintain, and secure. New projects have to be put on hold while waiting for the storage to be finished. Plus, there’s always the risk of hardware becoming outdated.

Do take advantage of cloud storage

Cloud storage puts data in logical pools spread out over a number of servers. Vendors then sell access to that storage through subscriptions. This model takes the burden of security and hardware maintenance off companies and allows them to purchase only what is needed at launch while remaining prepared for rapid scaling. Because the cost is spread out like a utility instead of an upfront investment, the project can reach ROI faster and begin to pay for itself much sooner.

Don’t create unnecessary bottlenecks

Bottlenecks form when multiple processes require the same resources to proceed. Plan the application architecture to maximize the availability of resources that will be in high demand. What does that look like?

  • Caching stores data closer to end users. It’s an excellent way to facilitate the return of data that’s needed often but changes rarely.
  • Non-blocking IO calls serve more requests with limited resources by letting processes continue before a slower one has finished.
  • Load balancing software intelligently spreads the workload across the network to reduce pressure on any one single node.
  • Redundancy safeguards against lost data as well as providing more access to high-demand resources.

Do consider a microservice architecture

Microservice architecture breaks large software into smaller pieces that can operate independently of each other. When one node is in high demand others can work without adding to its load. Fault isolation is a major advantage of using microservices. If something does go wrong, the majority of the system can usually remain up while that part is repaired.

A Final Thought

Choosing components which lend themselves to a scalable architecture saves both time and money. The slightly higher cost of emphasizing scalability during development is offset by greater agility and lower operational costs.

Concepta specializes in the kind of scalable architecture businesses need to meet the demands of digital transformation. Set up a complimentary appointment to discuss how to position your next application for success!

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API Design and Development Best Practices

Application Programming Interfaces, or API, offer a set level of access to a company’s digital resources. Other software can leverage these API to create an expanded range of services for mutual customers which benefits both companies.

User experience is key for modern companies. A big part of providing better experience is offering ways for customer-facing software to interact with other popular services: social media, analytics programs, mobile wallets, and more.

API are most valuable when they’re widely adopted. It’s important to build something functional and elegant that makes it simple for other developers to use it. With that in mind, here are some best practices for creating secure, effective, popular API.

Always Use Versioning

Never change a published API. Changing the structure could disrupt software created by API consumers, which can lead to anything from reputation damage to pricey liability claims.

Instead, label every version sequentially to provide a clear signal of which is most recent. Incorporate versioning into URLs (for example, https://concepta.com/v4/projects).

Always provide plenty of notice when stopping support for old versions to allow developers time to update their software.

There’s no downside to versioning. It’s free and easy to do, so there’s no real reason to skip this step even if the API isn’t intended for public release.

Secure Your Endpoints

Endpoints are the only access points to the outside world, making them major vulnerabilities. At the same time they must be accessible, since the point of API is for other organizations to access a company’s resources.

To resolve this dilemma, focus on securing endpoints against unauthorized intrusion using authentication. There are three primary options:

  • Basic Authentication: Authentication is provided using a base64 encoded string.
  • Token-based authentication: The user signs in with a username and password, then receives a token for authentication to further resources.
  • Hash-based Message Authentication Code (HMAC): Server and client each have a unique cryptographic key. The client uses this key to create a hash with the request data before sending it.

In addition, always apply timestamps to API requests and responses. It’s also a good idea to consider role-based access control to allow tiered access to different levels of users.

Validate Everything

Bad data can throw the entire system off, so don’t automatically accept user input. Run all incoming data through a validation protocol.

The parameters here should be simple yet detailed enough to establish whether the data “looks right”. Some questions to ask:

  • Is it the right number or type of numbers?
  • Is it an acceptable scheme?
  • Are all required request parameters included?

Validation is a basic level of defense that keeps obviously wrong data out of the system.

Use HTTP Correctly

HTTP is a serious asset when it’s used properly. Resist the urge to be “more efficient and precise” by ignoring error handling or using obscure codes.

Two areas to focus on are CRUD operations and response codes.

Common CRUD operations should be used according to common practice:

  • GET- Retrieve a representation of a resource.
  • POST- Create new resources or sub-resources
  • PUT/PATCH- Update existing resources
  • DELETE- Delete existing resources

Response codes provide feedback to help developers understand how to use the API.

  • 2xx Successful operation (OK, Created, Accepted, No Content)
  • 4xx Client-side failure (Bad Request, Unauthorized, Too Many Requests, Request Timeout)
  • 5xx Server-side failure (Bad Gateway, Gateway Timeout, HTTP Version Not Supported)

Favor specific codes when possible. It’s very hard to use an API that only returns general failure or success codes.

Linking to the appropriate section of documentation when returning error codes will make API more user-friendly, too.

Favor Descriptive Nouns For Collections/Resources

Using nouns as opposed to verbs in the URL serves two purposes. First, it keeps the URL simple and easy to read and use.

Second, verbs are used to operate on resources described by the URL. Having them also IN the URL can be confusing.  Notice that POST /postNewAddresses is much less elegant than POST / addresses.

Be descriptive with nouns so users don’t have to play guessing games. The biggest problem here is when developers favor style over efficiency.

Instead of using /photos they use something cute like /memories or /favorites that doesn’t tell users what the resource actually is.

A last note note: it’s common practice to use plural nouns, so do so in the interests of consistency and expected behavior.

Provide Thorough Documentation

Documentation can make or break an API. Provide everything users can conceivably want to know to smooth their development process as much as possible.

Keep info in context since users will very rarely be reading documentation in order.

The best documentation addresses these elements:

  • Index or navigation aid
  • Quickstart guide
  • Authentication
  • HTTP requests
  • Functions of every call in API
  • Each parameter and all of their possible values (types, formatting, rules, whether or not it’s required)
  • Error handling and error codes used (with easily understood explanations to aid in troubleshooting)
  • Tutorials that cover a specific task thoroughly without adding extraneous information
  • Version numbers

Be Consistent and Predictable

The goal is to create an API that’s easy and intuitive to use. Make paths easy to follow and use consistent behavior logic throughout.

Use codes how people will expect, favoring common methods when there’s no pressing reason to change something.

In short, don’t try to reinvent the wheel. Prioritize functionality and simplicity. If the API is too complex it creates a barrier to adoption.

API aren’t only for public use. Private API are a powerful tool for exposing outdated legacy systems to new technology. To learn about how to update your stack using API, schedule a consultation with the experienced developers at Concepta!


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