The Future User Interface – One Mobile App, Multiple Experiences
How thoughtful are your applications? I know this may seem like an odd phrase to use, but it’s actually quite a purposeful word choice. Are your mobile applications thoughtful? If yes, great, now please tell us why you think so. If no, why? Where are they failing in your opinion? My personal background, prior to being fortunate enough to get involved with companies focused on Crowdsourcing and Open Innovation, was in the service industry. More directly, I waited tables for a few years out of college at Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, CT. It was a great job and the training they provided from an organizational standpoint really boiled down to one thing: Anticipate what the guest will want before they ask for it and deliver. Another word for that can be summed up with the idea of being thoughtful, but how do you become thoughtful in how you approach mobile application development is the tricky part.
Please take a moment to watch this brand new video released by Nokia yesterday that details their new location based service application and burgeoning platform City Lens that is debuting on Nokia’s first Windows 8 enabled device. If you create mobile applications or create anything user facing for that matter, this is 2.5 minutes of your time well spent.
A Very Thoughtful Mobile Application
What we saw above, to me, was a combination of a fluid, smart application that just so happened to be presented and marketed in a very compelling and clean manner. It’s not Earth-shattering, it’s not showcasing any “new” technology we haven’t seen before. So why is the video so impactful? Because the application is thoughtful. It delivers to a user 3 unique ways to experience the application, it utilizes cleanly an augmented reality interface and then seamlessly swoops into a traditional “map” mode where directions are extraordinarily easy to access. It “thinks” before you have to, that if you just chose a location, perhaps you’d want to share this with your friends via text or social. And, if you watched the video, it does quite a bit more in terms of reviews, filtering and beyond. In other words, it anticipates your next move before you ever need to think about it and the results are simple. A user gains more ways to access the information, spends less time accessing exactly what is needed and it helps a user make a decision faster.
How Can You Develop Thoughtful Applications?
There are 3 steps that can help you get to “thoughtful” in your application development outputs. Just like the Nokia application featured above, this isn’t rocket science, but it takes focus to execute properly.
Step 1 – Understand What they Don’t Like
You can use Crowdsourcing to ask your fans, you can listen and interact socially, and you can run traditional testing and focus groups to discover what people are complaining about. If your resources permit, you should be doing all three. Regardless the method, understand what about existing applications – yours or a competitor’s – people despise or feel is a waste of time, they will tell you! If you’re not an enterprise and don’t have these types of resources at your disposal then roll up your sleeves and study that app space and look outside that specific app space for innovative solutions you can re-purpose for your application. Find out what frustrates people, and design solutions that alleviate this frustration… but it’s not enough to stop there.
Step 2 – Think Digital Ergonomics
Yes, we all know ergonomics is typically reserved for physical creations where studies and tinkering breed new “things” that fit our physical world more comfortably. Great, apply that same notion to how you design your apps. Why? The digital and physical world are blurring ever closer with each upgraded augmented reality application and new quantified self wearable device. The real physical world is about to become the most ambitious Open API mankind has yet known. So thinking about physicality in your applications will help drive a user experience that is thoughtfully more intuitive.
Step 3 – See a Whole Lot of Options
Climbing the wrong mountain can be deadly to your company. You can spend months, even years working on a new application or platform only to realize that when you reached the zenith of your journey, that you’ve ascended the wrong mountain completely, and therefore your application fails to catch on. It happens, it will continue to happen. But what can you do to take more swings, see more intuitive user interfaces and make better decisions on your way to creating thoughtful applications while lowering your risk? You can create mobile applications through Enterprise Open Innovation processes (an evolved and enterprise ready way to Crowdsource). Why would you want to? Would you like seeing 11 sets of icons to choose from? Would it be beneficial to iterate through 6 – 8 unique user interfaces in parallel and then roll your favorite UI/UX designs into a rapid-prototyping contest that garners you 4, 6, or even 10 unique prototypes to click through? Would it benefit you to see more options at each phase of development? If the answer is yes, then you can benefit from Crowdsourcing and Enterprise Open Innovation.
Applications, accessible data and open API’s continue to rule the day and most think the forseeable future of digital creation. When seeking to build out your next application or your entire app strategy take the time to ask and answer what can be a very nuanced question. Is our solution thoughtful, and if not, what can we do to change that, starting right now.
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image credit: highonlifelove.blogspot.com
video credit: youtube.com/nokia