As mobile continues to drive forward at a breakneck pace, it isn’t only changing the world of the companies that adopt mobile, it will change our lives.
“Mobile to overtake fixed Internet access by 2014.” Mary Meeker, Kleiner Perkins – Analyst, 2008
As you can see from the chart above, that bold prediction has proven to be true. “Where do we go from here?” Mobile marketers and product managers ask. Anywhere they want I say. The sky is the limit with mobile, and as the cogs on a wheel, your mobile efforts must include the most important elements that make sense for your app efforts to reap success.
Following, I will include trends I think we should be looking out for in 2016, as well as briefly include ones that peaked in 2015 that will continue into the new year and beyond.
Looking Back to 2015 Mobile Trends
1) Mobile Payments
As I, and many others predicted last year, 2015 was a banner year in the mobile payments industry and all indications are that 2016 will be more of the same and more. Much more. Apple led the way, leaving the banking industry in the dust, for the most part. This coupled with the introduction of Bitcoin blockchain that will be used to design products in the financial industry, 2016 looks to be really exciting for mobile payments.
What places Apple Pay at the top of the mobile payment heap, according to Ovum analyst Gilles Ubaghs, is the combining of its biometric TouchID technology with tokenization. Making it just as secure as presenting a credit card to a merchant as well as incurring a transaction fee, like a Credit Card.
2) IoT World is Expanding
In 2015 we saw more and more devices become a part of the Internet of Things (IoT). Everything from refrigerators and heating system (smart home) to the components of your car’s engine were connected to the Internet with mobile apps monitoring, stabilizing and running them. With this expansion I see a huge amount of big data becoming available to mobile marketers so that they can better market to their target audience(s). This trend will continue to develop in 2016 as more devices get connected and a bigger emphasis on communications to mobile devices, as IoT moves from becoming just a novelty to a mission critical component for companies.
Google Glass was just the beginning. While the business sector was more of the focus for Google’s wearable tech, it’ll be interesting to see where the Apple Watch goes and what industries it penetrates. With the world’s biggest tech company behind the marketing, I think we’ll see more big companies (we already are) such as Samsung introducing their own versions, and I predict that wearables will jump the adoption hurdle and into the mainstream. With the Watch just being introduced in 2015, we’ll need to give it a bit of time to know of its adoption.
4) Mobile UX Design
With content being such a key focus for app publishers, just as important is the way it is presented. In 2015 we saw UX designers going out of their comfort zones and using such fonts as vintage and Serif. With the proliferation of services such as Typekit and Google Font, having a big budget is no longer a necessity for making your headline looking good.
- Material Design
Introduced by Google in 2014 Material Design, a.k.a flat design, really broke ground in 2015.
Before Google, only Apple and Microsoft were using it in their mobile offerings. However, it was Google’s release of Material Design that gave this design style some push. The style of Material Design is content focused and brings motion, visuals and interaction together. It’s a lot cleaner and allows for faster loading time by doing away with unnecessary elements.
- Parallax Scrolling
This UX design trend was hot in 2015 and I expect it to continue. UX designers have deduced that scrolling is a lot more comfortable for a user than clicking. Parallax Scrolling delivers a delightful and smooth content experience and also cuts down on the loading time. It presents users with content that is in more of a storytelling format than one requiring users having to click to read more.
5) E-Commerce Meets Apps and Social for Brands
In 2015 we saw the major social platforms such as Instagram, with its Shop Now button, taking their first baby steps into the world of e-commerce. Many marketers are changing their perception that people don’t buy on Social Media, and with mobile, social and e-commerce converging and integrating the opportunities to find that right combination of browsing and buying I feel will add to an increase in purchasing via Social Media.
With mobile already becoming the screen of choice for a majority of people, mobile markers are in a constant state of evolution, adjusting their marketing and product strategies as needed to keep stride in the great app race. All of these trends will present them with fresh opportunities to share their messages with consumers. Most importantly, marketers should seize the new ways to familiarize themselves with their customer base and better understand their needs.
Looking Ahead to 2016
1) The Growing Importance of Mobile UX
“Many organizations now realize that a high-quality user experience (UX) can provide competitive business advantage. Enterprises are adopting the technologies and practices pioneered by leading consumer Web properties (e.g., Amazon, Google and Facebook). The challenge is that the Web is evolving toward social and mobile, which means designers must stretch further, to cover these new bases.” – Ray Valdes , Research VP, Gartner
With new tools and technologies making mobile UX design so much more competitive, app stores are bursting with higher quality apps and app makers are beginning to realize the value of what an outstanding UX can do from all angles. Conversion, engagement, sharing the app. Superior UX design will make your app stand out in the crowd. It will give your target market an APPetite. In 2016, I see Mobile UX being a huge buzzword that will be adopted and implemented across the mobile world.
- UX Personalization
In the mobile world, as in the real world, people connect with objects that speak to them. A mobile user who loves spectator sports will be much more apt to sign up for a sports newsletter than one about cooking. That’s UX personalization. Think of all the times you get push notifications from an app you signed up for. You get these because of your connection to a certain topic or genre. App makers need to make their apps speak to their users by not only supplying users with an app that is functional and gets the job done, but also providing the user with relevance at every turn. While personalization has been a mainstay of the desktop for some time, it has quickly become a key element in the world of apps.
While UX design is tailored to the user base so that it is more pleasing to the eye and foments user interaction, personalization goes a step further in making them feel a certain way. Based on a user’s past use, it could notify them of offers that would give them a warm fuzzy feeling that triggers a click to buy. Based on a user’s past content consumption, it would know what content to provide at a specific time. Based on a user’s location it could offer them a deal at a local store.
Personalizing your app is key to making it a pleasant experience, thereby maximizing the mobile experience.
- Real-time App UX Analytics
2016 will be the year that the real time monitoring of app use and UX will take center stage. There are many verticals that are just plain flooded. 2016 will be the year that you don’t just enter your app into a crowded space, but make it stand out from the app crowd.
By using a real time app UX analytics tool, like the one Appsee Mobile Analytics provides, you can make that happen. Such a tool will empower you to see your app being used through your users’ eyes and take a deep-dive into user behavior. UX analytics tools key features include touch heatmaps, user recordings and UI analysis reports, all of which will help you understand the reason behind your users’ actions. Thus allowing you to streamline the app optimization process and deliver the best possible user experience in your app. By improving your app’s UX, you will increase user retention, conversions and in-app purchase, among other metrics.
Take the user recording shown below for example. It shows how the user interacts with the app when on the registration screen as part of the onboarding process. The user is unable to create an account using their Facebook login due to a technical error, as is shown by the pop up message. This is an example of insight that will help you realize what needs to be fixed and gives you the reason why users aren’t finishing the registration process and aren’t converting into active users.
2) Predictive Analytics
Data analysis has always been at the forefront of analytics, but the use of such analytics failed to answer a primary question. How can it be used to increase sales with a customer at precisely the right moment? By using the predictive version, you can gain insights into user behavior patterns and interests which will allow you to create a customer experience that introduces relevance and increases sales. By knowing what they have done in the past, you can predict what actions users will be taking the next time they are using your app.
Predicting consumer buying behavior will empower you to get the most out of your advertising budget. Take search for example; predictive analytics will allow you to suggest products within a user’s searches that are relevant and based on their past buying patterns.
I look for predictive analytics to play a big part in how brands foment engagement with their users and increase conversions.
3) Mobile Advertising
Mobile advertising for the past few years has focused on banner ads, interstitial and in line advertising, but these are giving way to video advertising. Much having to do with the availability and proliferation of high speed Internet access
- The Adoption of Video Advertising
As mobile publishers seek ways to better connect with audiences in meaningful interactions, there aren’t too many ways to do it better than advertising using the power of the moving image.
With YouTube’s video app, earning the second highest number of unique visitors per year (after Facebook), both social giants are getting ready for this to be a banner year in the realm of video marketing.
AOL’s recent report 2015 US State of the Video Industry shows that users are four times as likely to view videos on a mobile device because of convenience, rather than just viewing experience. Screen size has no effect on this stat. This discovery translates to mobile marketers needing to connect with consumers as much as they can via video. See this Infographic from Hubspot 25 Video Marketing Statistics for 2015 for lots of great insights.
In 2016, I expect this trend to keep moving northward. I see the exponential rise of video being used in mobile marketing
- More Precise Location Targeting
Use of such technology as beacons, especially among brick and mortar retailers, will give app marketers a more definite idea of where their consumers are physically. Together with predictive modeling, for example, a consumer that bought over 1,000 dollars of items for a back to school special, can now be offered products tied to summer camps and sports when they are in the store again come May. Knowing a user’s precise location will empower mobile marketers to introduce relevance to a mobile app via such strategies as push notifications.
4) Faster Mobile Development and Growth in Cross-Platform Tools
As more companies and organizations decide to jump on the mobile train, I see more tools that facilitate the development of mobile apps, especially in the area of native mobile apps. One of the main issues when it comes to developing native apps is the time required, not to mention the cost. Cross-platform tools can greatly reduce the time needed in getting apps launched in the market. See here for a list of recommended tools that help speed up mobile development.
With end users calling the shots, they want apps across multiple devices. BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) is just one example that shows you how end users are dictating requirements to app makers. In order to thrive in today’s world of apps, they must be on the ready to work without a hitch on multiple devices.
When an idea for an app is signed off, the execution for the development of that app must be done quickly in order to get it to market. It is for this reason that cross-platform development tools need to continue to rise to another level in order to facilitate this sense of urgency to get apps to market.
This coming year expect to witness the evolution and growth of such tools.
5) Mobile UX Design
- Micro Interactions
The things that you use throughout your day are things you generally interact with via micro interactions. Shutting off your alarm, setting the coffee maker or pressing the delete button. In an ever increasing world of complexity, how you design these micro interactions wild determine the impact on your user’s overall mobile user experience.
- Meaningful Gestures
To succeed as a UX designer in today’s app ecosystem, you need to have a comprehensive understanding on how gestures are used by your target audience. Those slight touches, smooth swipes, and minuscule pinches are an integral part of the user experience. With Apple’s new 3D Touch technology, UX designers will need to follow this development closely to see if its adoption is something that their audience will embrace.
- Smooth Verification
With Apple’s TouchID, a trend developed in 2015, is one where people can smoothly and securely login to their apps while protecting their identities and information. For such industries as banking and financial services, I see a combination of biometrics that include such technologies as retinal scanning and hear rate identification being used in conjunction with fingerprint identification to provide the most secure mobile experience.