Written by Gerry Tombs, CEO, Clearvision
Mobile apps are an essential part of our daily lives – be it for news, weather, health, fitness, travel, directions – you name it from the moment we wake up to the moment we go to bed, apps form part of our everyday routine and we rely heavily on them. But this really highlights the challenge that businesses face in developing compelling and engaging apps that users want to interact with. Fundamentally, for an app to succeed, it must act as an extension of the user, augmenting their lives, solving their problems in new ways, and delivering such a seamlessly brilliant experience that they turn to it repeatedly until it becomes valued as an essential part of their lives.
This kind of user engagement is commercial gold and is what companies are seeking as they compete to gain customer loyalty and streamline business processes. So why is experience so critical in today’s market and how can businesses deliver enterprise grade apps that have the experience users are looking for?
Millennials and Generation Z
By 2025, millennials will make up 75 percent of the active working population, with Gen Z hot on their heels. These true digital natives have matured in an always-on, instant access mobile culture. Not for them queuing at the post office or the bank, or indeed, queuing anywhere. Whether in a role as consumers, or as employees, they demand that apps live up to their high expectations before they become long-term members of their digital application ecosystems.
They build that ecosystem based on companies that offer the service that fits in with their omnichannel lives, enabling them to multitask life-changing decisions such as getting a mortgage with the mundanity of grocery shopping. And if one brand can handle both, even better!
Customers and employees are looking for brilliant experiences and loyalty is quickly transferred to the app that can deliver “wow” moments. This makes creating slick, smart, and creative apps mission-critical to businesses that want to compete for digital mindshare and break into the trusted application ecosystem of the user.
An app that fails to meet the user’s expectations is just that: a failure. Organisations risk wasting valuable investment and development time if they can’t get into the experience mindset that creates apps that truly are an extension of the user.
Getting into the mindset of your users
So, how do you get into that mindset?
A really good example is something that Zurich UK did, using the technology of our low-code partner, Mendix. Zurich wanted to investigate new ways to promote life insurance adoption across the UK market, and recognised that people were put off from buying life cover because they thought it was unaffordable and perhaps a luxury. To challenge that view, Zurich developed a selfie app. They came up with the novel idea of FaceQuote, a frictionless, first-to-market application that provides prospective life insurance customers by soliciting a selfie, estimating the user’s age, and calculating a monthly premium based on this estimated age.
The FaceQuote App consists of only two pages, providing a simple, nearly instantaneous idea of what life insurance would cost a typical customer. The user’s selfie is sent by FaceQuote to an image processing intelligence that provides an educated guess of the user’s age with just one click. The estimated age then drives an estimate of a life insurance premium for the user.
I give this example because it is the very definition of a brilliant digital experience, in this case made possible by low-code – it’s an app that works perfectly for the end user and helps the organisation meet an important business goal.
Apps that work anytime, anywhere, any environment
Although we develop apps in solid network environments with full connectivity, the real world just isn’t like that. An app that is truly appreciated by a user will get spun up in any situation, and it needs to deliver value no matter how bad the connection or even when there’s no connection at all. Here at Clearvision we understand that if we can’t provide users with a fully functional app at any time or at least a clever and fun way to interact with the app while offline or when experiencing network limitations, we aren’t delivering well. And that’s why I think that more than ever, user experience experts and mobile developers must be aware of how important offline synchronisation and network management are in achieving the best technical solution without compromising a great user experience.
Put simply, the experience needs to deliver, even when the network doesn’t. That’s why testing in all kinds of less-than-ideal scenarios and prioritising mobile design and functionality at every stage are key. It’s the only way the app will win its way into the user ecosystem.
Where thinkers become makers
When we’re talking about app development, the usual tale is of speed: rushing headlong to get apps out the door under pressure from business units or competitors. However, when trying to deliver a brilliant experience, it is well worth regularly taking the time to step back and check that you’re still heading in the right direction. That’s the beauty of low code – it actually frees up time to make sure that the app is delivering on criteria such as usability, creativity, and those “wow” moments. Because technical debt is lower with low code, there’s no fear of change; on the contrary, continuous change is positive and prolongs the lifespan of that app. We keep adding value to the app instead of retiring it, so those previous investments are never lost.
In today’s world, user experience is a key battlefield for businesses trying to win hearts and minds. Earning a place in the user’s app ecosystem is the ultimate prize, so the pressure is on to deliver experiences so brilliant that they unquestionably enhance the user’s life. Understanding user stories and how they can be changed, delivering a seamless mobile experience and taking time to create an intuitive, innovative product are all cornerstones of delivering brilliant digital experiences that permit the app to become “part of us.”.