User interacting with gold iPhone

Effective Thinking

Mobile Strategy: Scoping Your Mobile App for Users on the Go

When moving from a desktop application to a mobile app, it’s tempting to say “Why would I want to limit the scope of my mobile app? The mobile version should have all the features and functionality of the desktop version.” Unfortunately, if your desktop application has a robust set of features, offering all that in a mobile app can lead to an overly complex interface that requires too many levels of navigation, too many screens and, ultimately, creates user fatigue and a lack of adoption.

Scoping your mobile app is an important part of your mobile strategy and as such deserves serious consideration. Here are a few questions to ask when determining what features to include in an on-the-go format.

How do your target customers use their phones?
Do your customers use their smartphone for all of their internet activities? Or do they employ a wide range of devices and technology options, and reserve their phones for quick, on-the-go interactions?

What is the most common activity in the desktop version of your app?
How common is this activity and what percentage of users are doing it? Is this an activity that can be isolated and provide value on its own in a mobile app? Sometimes creating an app that does one thing really well can offer significant value and a great experience for your customers.

How and when do your customers use your online services?
You should evaluate if it makes sense for your customers to access your services on the go and, if so, which services they will need. I recently saw a commercial for a big bank’s iPad app, and I couldn’t help but wonder, “How likely is it that people will want to closely examine their financial information in a public place, such as during an airport delay?” I can only speak for myself, but this is exactly the type of app that I would not want to spend a lot of time with on the go. First, financial information is the last type of information that I’d want someone sneaking a peek of over my shoulder. Second, I don’t want to be frazzled or distracted while evaluating my current financial situation – it is serious business and I want to give it the time, attention and privacy that it deserves.

These are a few of the issues to consider when determining mobile app features. I’ll be discussing these concepts and more in my breakout session, “Mobile Adoption: Choosing the Right Features and Functionality for Users on the Go” at EffectiveUI’s Making Mobile Meaningful event, March 20 at BLT Fish in New York.