Last updated on March 30th, 2021
We live in a connected world where users switch between various devices such as smartphones, tablets, and laptops to browse the internet, shop, or get entertained. As the WFH wave was crested, remote employees also started accessing their enterprise tools and applications from a growing number of devices. Across actions, it’s clear that users prefer a seamless experience that is uninterrupted by switching platforms or devices.
But while providing a unified cross-platform experience might seem a necessity, it has its own set of challenges.
To begin with, every platform has a unique set of guidelines that developers must adopt to deliver even basic functionalities. Additionally, the look and feel of the application has to be consistent across all platforms as variations would be confusing for the users. Every element has to be intuitive, so the user can navigate through the application naturally without any hiccups. And with all that, it needs to deliver an unbeatable customer experience.
So, how can companies create such a seamless experience for cross-platform users?
Things To Remember While Building User Experience For Cross-Platform Users
Consistency is key
Imagine a user adding household items to the Amazon cart from their desktop. They add a few items and intend to add some more on their way home using a mobile app. When they open the app, they don’t find any of the items they added to the cart. Now they have to start adding the items again. Imagine how furious they might be about the experience.
Or take an example of a corporate user who might have added some training videos to watch at night on their enterprise learning platform from their mobile phone, but when they switch on the desktop app, the browse and search experience is completely different, and they get lost. Imagine their frustration.
If companies want user engagement and impact, they have to ensure consistency in the experience across all platforms. User expectations are influenced by the experiences provided by the services and products they consume in their personal life like Spotify. For instance, the navigation is the same for every platform except for some minor differences that are dictated by the OS. Hence, developers must be aware of the nuances of each platform before they start developing the app. They must ensure that the font, images, etc. correspond to the size of the likely devices but are linked by a unified vision about user experience.
Understand the user behavior
Delivering a powerful cross-platform user experience must start with understanding the behavior of the users. Extensive research of the user journey and workflows at the design stage will help build a comprehensive picture of the behavior of their core users. UX designers must explore questions like how the user will access the app? What for? Even for app versions already out there, they can observe the trends carefully to know user preferences and address questions like, how often do users use the apps? When do they stop engaging with it? What bottlenecks do they face while working? The app can be designed or modified based on these insights. This time spent in understanding user behavior will help the company prioritize those features that might be most useful to the user.
Think like the user
In continuation to the above point, developers should ensure their personal preferences don’t influence them while developing the app. For example, a developer might intuitively understand a complex workflow because of familiarity with the app but a user is unlikely to do so. Hence, it’s crucial to think like a user. One way to get into the groove is to use the same app on different devices for a couple of days. This way, the developers will gain first-hand experience of using the app and know what can be improved. Obviously, the success of the app depends on driving up user-acceptance. So, the experience should be designed based on how the user would best want to engage with the app.
Create a seamless and familiar experience
Users love familiarity. In the context of enterprise users, after years of having used enterprise tools on corporate networks and their desktops/laptops, they would have become set in their ways. Any product that relies on altering user behavior for success faces a tough battle. It’s clear that enterprise users prefer experiences that they are familiar with or have been exposed to before. So, avoid creating anything that would require the user to put in extra effort in adapting or learning. Additionally, ensure that there are not too many platform-specific functionalities such as 3D touch as that could create a barrier in using the app on different platforms or devices. The focus should be to ensure that there is no discontinuity in experience when the user shifts from one device to another and that they can engage with the app without any disruptions.
Today, given the complexity of the device ecosystem in enterprises, companies cannot afford to build apps or tools wedded to one platform. To widen its impact and drive up usage, cross-platform app development is essential. As it happens, building such versatile apps is also cost-effective and saves time for different users as they go about their daily tasks. So, that makes it an interesting business proposition for companies that value innovation and cost-efficiency. However, given the complexity, companies have to be careful while developing their cross-platform apps. It’s not easy to convert their app ideas into code. That’s where Forgeahead’s Build-as-a-Service (BaaS) model can help. BaaS is an execution engine that helps companies to transform their ideas into innovations rapidly and cost-efficiently. We focus on building the application while our clients focus on improving their business!