October 18, 2013

The 'good enough' mobile app is on the rise -- but develop with caution

Credit: iStockphoto

It’s a truism that one aspect of the consumerization of IT is that users expect better experience from apps and other technology systems than IT is accustomed to delivering. Tech needs to be as easy as a Mac, iPhone, TiVo, Amazon.com, Nest, and so on if users are to choose it. Apps designed by engineers for engineers won’t cut it any more.

But also true is the notion of “good enough” that Web apps and services especially have fostered, as have many mobile apps, where people do what it takes to transact and ignore a suboptimal experience to get something free or fast. It’s a somewhat contradictory phenomenon, but there are some principles to determining when “good enough” really is good enough and when a rich, intuitive experience is required.

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Take the example of the recently announced BT MeetMe conferencing service that features spatial audio using Dolby technology, to create the illusion that speakers on an audioconference are sitting in the same room as you, even in different locations in that room, as if you were all around the same virtual table. That sounds like a superior user experience. But I bet that most companies won’t pay extra for that audio experience, even as we all complain about crappy teleconference audio. Why? Because the crappy experience is good enough for the value the teleconference provides.

If you travel, you know how poor the user experience is on most airline and hotel sites — many don’t work well on mobile devices or even have mobile versions. If you use a travel management app like TripIt, you see quickly that outside of its neat little borders, it’s a Wild West of poor user experiences when it sends you to checkin pages. We’d all like a good user experience, but most people don’t fly enough to care enough. Thus, you get airlines like Southwest and AirTran that don’t bother supporting mobile users with a mobile website or app.

Source: http://www.infoworld.com/d/consumerization-of-it/the-good-enough-mobile-app-the-rise-develop-caution-228723?source=rss_applications
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