3Cs of Digital Experiences

Core Components of Digital Experience – Content, Context, Curation (3Cs) 

The digital divide is closing in quicker than ever. The pace of digital innovation is greatly accelerating and the ability to access information anywhere, anytime, and in any form is increasing the appetite even more. We are becoming an increasingly digitally-influenced culture for our everyday needs of commerce, entertainment, health care, wellness, personal finance, social interactions, food etc.

The question then becomes: How do you build experiences that could provide meaningful engagement in a fast-paced, changing digital environment?  The three most important aspects of a digital experiences are relevant content, understanding the context to serve the content, and curating an experience that delivers the content with a context.

Content

Informational and influencing content is critical to be visible in the digital world. Content can be generated in various ways. Depending on the industry and topic, the right incentives and drivers are necessary to be able to generate content that is unique and engaging. Content can be created directly as a first party source, by collaborating with multiple parties, by inviting participants to react/enhance , by doing mashups from various sources, and so on and so forth.

As the content is generated and managed, it is also important to modularize the content, categorize the content and store it with a flexibility to digitally serve in various formats (text, image etc.). Content, categorization and content meaning matters within the context of the platform. For example product ratings with a scale (1-5)  in e-commerce and Facebook likes could be used in different ways. The number of likes for a nice picture of a dinner plate, kids with puppy eyes, or a comment about the relentless northeastern United States winter have different meanings. For a publishing business, news content needs to be written and captured very modularly to be able to cater to many types of readers in various mediums.

Context

The good and bad news is that with technology advancements we can easily digitally understand the context in which content is delivered .

When an e-commerce company delivers an offer, it is much easier these days to know the weather, the user’s depth of the relationship with the brand,the physical location where the content is consumed (of-course with opt-in), and more. A Texas-based innovative full-service tech agency recently tested weather-based offers for a large convenience store chain offering Slurpee(s), coffee or umbrellas depending on the time and place. This campaign was a great success and is an example of how context can be used – this will matter more and more.

Think about the embedded videos in the Facebook newsfeed; as you scroll through the content and when you pause at a video content, it starts playing automatically without any other additional effort from the user. It is all about context. As data models evolve and become more and more meaningful insights are derived and contextual delivery of the content becomes easier.

Curation

Data proliferation and types of devices (watches, bangles, eye wear, auto display etc.) are about to explode thanks to the high-speed internet evolution that is also aiding the acceleration.

Recently I participated in a panel moderated by a dynamic CEO who took audience questions in his smart watch that were tweeted with the event hashtag. Delivering this type of content real-time on a smart watch will come down to identifying the most effective way to curate the content, and to present in the most consumable way that could be scrolled with minimal gestures and one/two buttons in the watch.

The UX world is still evolving ways to deliver effective content in a smart phone device (LinkedIn changed their app navigation thrice already). The discussion of whether responsive/adaptive design is a solution to solve content display between desktop, tablet and smart phone is still nascent. It is also clear based on learnings from the smart phone world, that creating curated experience for the medium really pays off.

Understanding user needs at the time of consumption, and curating the right experience is critical to engage the user. Showing the top unpaid bills in a banking application or showing active trades with actionable buttons is more important for those needs in a smart phone. Now think about curating those same alerts for a smart watch.

There are several other underlying enablers including data platforms, content delivery networks etc. to develop the best experience. All of these lead to delivering the right content, with the right context, in the most curated form that can be consumed and acted on.

 

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Mobile’s surge

Sending one-way communications to consumers on mobile devices or optimizing a website for mobile is no longer good enough. Brands must now be able to optimize mobile channels in a way that enables consumers to make purchases, track pricing and comparison shop whenever and wherever they wish to in order to remain relevant. That includes mobile versions of websites, as well as custom mobile apps.

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ESPN exec: Mobile application promotion needs to go beyond app stores

Brands and retailers have to think beyond app stores to find loyal users, according to an ESPN executive who participated in a Mobile Marketer webinar yesterday.

Execs from ESPN, JetBlue, Staples and Fiksu participated in Mobile Marketer’s “Five keys to building app loyalty and long-term usage” webinar and spoke about the role that mobile apps play in a company’s broader digital strategy. The executives also offered best practice tips to attendees looking to build their mobile strategy.

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Webinar on March 29: 5 Keys to Building App Loyalty and Long-Term Usage

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Staples’ mobile strategy based on customer convenience, loyalty

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Staples Debuts Tablet-Optimized E-Commerce Site

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Getting socially optimized with mobile marketing

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At Staples, tablet users now have their own t.staples.com

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Staples leads the way with new tablet-optimized experience

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Brick to Concrete…Web browser to Mobile app

Guidelines on Building Enterprise Smartphone Mobile Apps

Many organizations large and small are interested in developing mobile apps. As we begin to think about enterprise data on-the-go, it is important to be aware of what to offer and the implications around them.

The smart phone market is growing fast and your competitors are gaining attention sooner than you think. It is important to be a player in the space and learn quickly than to follow.

Developing Enterprise mobile apps can be thought of as analogous to the transition from brick to concrete and steel…you have different materials, different strengths, and different construction processes etc. One would not make a copy of a brick house using concrete and steel, but would rather think about what one can do with the new material.

In the mobile space, you know who is using the app, where, when, some possible physicals conditions (e.g. accelerometers) and the option to know more about the user’s environment (i.e. camera, microphone). It is important to think about what this means to your business and how to develop effective apps to leverage these strengths.

Take the built-in camera as an example of this thinking process

  1. CNET app has used it for barcode scanner to deliver product reviews and pricing
  2. DCU bank has used for mobile check deposit (take a picture of check and deposit)
  3. A large construction company uses it for documenting stages of construction work

Key questions to think about while developing enterprise mobile apps:

  • Goal for mobile app: What are your core goals you are trying to achieve using mobile app? Revenue, Brand, Stickiness etc.
  • Demographics: What percentage of your target audience use smart phones? Are they using it as a business phone or a personal phone or both?
  • Cost vs. Benefit: It is not write-once and deploy, there is a cost associated with maintaining the app.  Are the returns for the features offered in mobile app justified?
  • Free or Pay: Do you want to charge for downloads? Should it be free? Do you need a teaser app?
  • The right features: Selecting relevant features for a mobile user (e.g. driving directions, nearest location of a favorite coffee place)
  • Currency: The mobile currency in most developing countries are “minutes” and  pre-paid cards. It is also an effective aid for micro-finance transactions. How does this apply to your business?

To build a native app or Optimize for mobile browser?

Most downloadable apps are built as native applications (i.e. Built for a specific mobile platform such as iPhone). Alternatively your website can also be optimized for better viewing experience in mobile browsers. With mobile browsers becoming more sophisticated, users are getting decent experience already with most websites. Native applications offer an untapped potential at a cost over other options.

The advantages of building a native app are as follows:

  • Gain “mobile real estate” directly on the consumer’s phone. This would mean you can present selective information (e.g. deals) real-time.
  • Information pushed to consumer with native app can be targeted and contextual since the app can potentially access built-in device capability such as location and/or camera.
  • Provide offline reading capability for users to read while they are on the go
  • More eyeball time as you keep your logo and brand in front of the consumer’s eyes, increasing their loyalty. You are there when they need you!
  • Updating new functionality is fairly easy and most users keep their apps up to date

What you need to know going native:

  • A native application is built the same way most web applications are built. This means having a sustained development effort to build, maintain and support the app
  • Larger enterprises needs to be highly selective of information exposed in mobile platform since there is lot to offer and you have only limited amount of resources
  • Limiting options in offering complex functions with many mobile phones still offer lower processing capability

Technologies

Developing mobile applications, like any other standard development effort, needs additional considerations.

  • iPhone, Blackberry, Android and Palm OS are some  of the operating systems you would need to think about building apps for.
    • If you would like to use built-in device capability such as camera or GPS then it is better to develop apps in the language each operating system supports – Some browsers do offer the capability to invoke GPS like capabilities from within.
    • If you do not see any need to use built-in-device capability then there are some open source frameworks and products such as webapp and isites you can use that will help build one core app across platforms.
    • Code developed for iPhone native app mostly to date can be used only for “i” devices
    • Code developed for Blackberry and Android has a good amount of reusability

Have a blast exploring the mobile space!

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