Pity the companies that still visualize their customers patiently clicking from site to site from their desktop computers. That vision is as out of step with reality as the notion that most kids live with two parents of the opposite sex in their first marriage.

It may have been the norm at one point in time, but it certainly isn't any longer. If you have any doubts, just consider a new report from comScore, which underscores the point that mobile is now the growth driver — while desktops have devolved to secondary touch points for a large percentage of the US digital audience.

comscore's mobile vs desktop

Since the end of 2005, comScore reports, "smartphone penetration of the mobile phone market has grown from next to nothing to 79 percent. In the past 3 years, a quarter of the mobile phone market made the switch from feature phone to smartphone, a trend that continues but is slowing."

Mobile isn't the future: It's a fact — and businesses need to do everything possible to create optimal mobile experiences. Successful mobile experiences mean more than a shrunken version of your other platforms. The mobile version should stand on its own to bring customers back and drive conversions.

The Question

How can organizations deliver the best mobile experience?

The Answers

Jeff Kell, Designer, Digital Piece of Mind

Kell is an entrepreneur, digital curator and humanitarian who defines himself at the nexus of social consciousness, business, and content in both design and implementation. Through his concierge-style Mountain View, Calif.-based creative agency, Digital Piece of Mind, he indulges his interests in user experience and user interface design. As Digital Piece of Mind was forming, he led the Thirst Labs engineering team to create a comprehensive news app for Glass in 72 hours, making it one of the first 10 apps on the platform. Previously, Kell marketed the first-ever iOS accelerometer game, growing it to No. 1 in China and No. 7 in the U.S. in the Kid's Games category. Tweet to Jeffrey Kell.

Jeff Kell

Creating a great mobile experience is like throwing a dinner party. You bring out your best dishes, silverware, wine and food. You clean up your house and plan a meal that's conscientious of everyone's dietary needs. The experience is thoughtful, creative and catered. Why should a mobile presence be any different?

The mobile experience must consistently strive to be contextual, delightful and memorable. Every mobile digital experience is another chance to nurture a relationship between any given organization and old and new customers alike, and should be treated as a privilege.

As artificial intelligence and virtual reality are on the rise, organizations, their brands and mobile experiences will hopefully develop into more transparent, connected and design-centric spheres of influence and value.

Design approaches and strategies for mobile should be agile and feel free to change as technology becomes faster and accessible to more of the world's population. The phrase, "best mobile experience," is flawed in my mind, in that I would ask for how long is a company's mobile experience the best and to whom?

Let's use Facebook's mobile experience as an example. The idea of connecting the world's 7.4 billion people would have profound implications for human communication and societal interaction and connectedness. When I think about creating an experience for someone who's never used the Internet before in remote parts of the world, I immediately want to go off the grid and determine how life is without a phone, apps and convenience.

What software would make the difference between life and death for a user in a remote location? How would worldwide Internet change international commerce, access to clean drinking water, and global health care? What devices would people use? What is the technological infrastructure for beaming down Internet from drones?

If I was tackling this problem, I would focus on creating an environment ripe with technology education for people who aren't already using the Internet. The best mobile experience is achieved by determining who your customer is anywhere at any point in time. Relevant information in the hands of everyone is the future.

Jeff Soriano, Senior Director, Offerpop

Soriano is senior director of demand generation for Offerpop. A demand generation expert with more than 10 years of experience, he has led several strategic initiatives to develop go-to-marketing positioning and demand strategies for both emerging and established B2B organizations. His work has resulted in generating demand and awareness for the platforms and solutions of the companies for which he has worked. Tweet to Jeff Soriano.

Jeff Soriano headshot

People love creating and sharing personal experiences with their peers. This takes place through photos, videos or memes and is evident by the 1.8 billion photos consumers upload every day to social platforms.

A good mobile experience leverages this reality and provides consumers with a user-friendly platform to share and view organic content. Consumers are already interacting this way on mobile in their personal lives, so it’s a natural transition to use this trend as a way for brands to engage and encourage participation.

Additionally, a high-quality mobile experience provides brands with access to highly influential and trustworthy content from consumers that can be leveraged in future programs. A brand may launch a photo contest, asking users to share a real-time photo of a certain product for a chance to be featured on the brand’s website, actively capturing the attention of consumers and therefore boosting mobile experience.

Delivering a positive experience on mobile requires brands to connect with consumers on a personal level and provide a customized experience that is natural for the mobile platform. To do this, organizations need to put consumers’ desires at the forefront of their mobile marketing strategies by taking advantage of the growing natural desire to share authentic content on mobile and social.

Regardless of whether a brand simply incorporates authentic consumer content into its mobile experience or launches an entire content campaign to promote participation, it’s vital to recognize that people want to feel like they are part of a brand’s story.

Joe Kleinwaechter, VP, Worldpay

Joe Kleinwaechter is the vice president of innovation and design at Worldpay US, a global payments technology provider for in-store, online and via mobile devices. An engineering and technology leader, he has two decades of experience leading technical innovation and introducing unique solutions to markets. He has led engineering and design teams that introduced new ideas in a wide range of fields, including FinTech, internet security, energy management and groupware. Tweet him at Joe Kleinwaechter.

Joe Kleinwaechter headshot

First, key in on the word “best.” If you can’t do best, it at least needs to be better than simply good enough. 

Consumers’ opinions of a merchant are directly affected by their mobile experiences. A weak mobile experience is worse than no mobile app at all. If you are going to have a mobile app, make sure it is an outstanding experience.

To get to outstanding, organizations need to start small. It is much better to offer an app that does one thing really well than an app that has more features with a weaker experience.

Talk to your customers and ask, “What is the one thing that you really need to enhance your experience?” To some it might be inventory identification, while others may view loyalty as their top additional experience. The key is you are not the consumer. You have to get the information directly from them.

One study found the number one reason why iPhone users with Apple Pay enabled on their devices didn’t use the service at a retailer that also had the capability was: “I forgot.” You cannot deliver a forgettable experience and expect the user to remember to use your app.

To deliver great mobile experiences, remember these three key elements:

  1. Respect the customer’s time: Every click or swipe is a possible distraction away from their ultimate goal — to buy something. Keep them on task, and don’t add filler that prevents them from doing just that.
  2. Stay consistent with the design of the device: Make sure your on-screen elements take advantage of the way the consumers already use their phones. Don’t get creative and propose a new way to interact with a calendar or a button when the consumer already knows how to use the stock objects on their device.
  3. Look for technology opportunities that reduce their workload: Biometric authentication is now considered the standard for phones that have the hardware. It is more secure and, more importantly, quicker than typing in a password. Allow customers, for example, to use the camera on their phones to take a picture of a credit card rather than having them type in the information manually. There are libraries that you can obtain that already perform these functions.

Title image by Asa Aarons Smith