Technology

Experience without borders

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Tackling the challenges of handover and parallel media use

In order to provide a successful user experience, companies have to face up to two challenges: People use a multitude of devices – and they also use classic media such as the TV at the same time.

Multi-device: seamless performance across all viewports

Most users are accompanied by a number of different devices over the course of their day. The smartphone as an indispensable component of everyday life always has to be at hand, often with the addition of the desktop for work during the day and the tablet in the evenings. People start working on tasks on one device and finish them on another. This places special demands on brands: On the one hand, they have to provide their users with a seamless user experience without disruptions and, on the other, address the special characteristics of each of these usage scenarios.
 
But these different devices are not just used one after the other, but also parallel to classic media. For example, 70 percent of the users surveyed by Statista / ForwardAdGroup in 2016 used a laptop, 57 percent a smartphone and 37 percent a tablet while watching television.

Consistent UX

The key to a seamless user experience is consistent structure and navigation, both on websites and in mobile applications. This means that the user can put the behavior they have already learned into practice across all devices, which also facilitates the synchronization of content. Apple was the first to identify the cross-device paradigm and, with iOS 9, presented a function for in-house software that allowed users to continue to work on their tasks across all devices.

But consistent UX does not mean that it is enough to make it possible for a user to technically operate an application across several devices. Ultimately, different functions are required depending on the context – and this has to be taken into account during the development and design of multi-device platforms. The mobile app by Evernote, for example, provides a pre-integrated camera function so that users can record notes and events. But on the desktop application, its functionality focuses more on managing data.

Identifying decision-making moments

Depending on the context, different uses do not just have to be taken into account in the functions, but also in relation to the content being provided. These micro-moments, also referred to as “decision-making moments”, can be divided into time-related and place-related queries. For example, two users are performing searches using the term “vegetarian food”, one of them on a weekday at 4 pm from a desktop computer, the other on a Saturday evening using a mobile device in the center of town. Although they are entering the same query, we can recognize different intentions. For example, it is very likely that the first user is looking to obtain general information about vegetarian food and recipes, while the second user is trying to find a vegetarian restaurant or organic store.
 

In order to successfully accompany the user across all devices and provide a limitless user experience that is customized to the context, it is crucial

  • to analyze the user’s journey using all touch points;
  • to also take into account the factor of time in relation to specific products;
  • to provide the user with contextual information;
  • to customize the functions of an application to its contextual use;
  • to design the entire structure and user interface as consistently as possible.

About the Author

Jörg Heidrich
Executive Director UX

As Executive Director UX at UDG United Digital Group, Jörg Heidrich optimizes the user experience for strong brands. The qualified designer consistently focuses on customers and motivates companies to actively engage with their needs and habits, generating sustainable brand-appropriate growth.