Responsive Web & Mobile Apps: How to approach your digital roadmap

(Image Credit: iStockPhoto/tumdee)

The details of a company's digital roadmap can seem daunting; what to do, and when to do it can seem like a never ending list of possibilities, but really all it comes down to is what do the customers need and what does the business need?

Answering these questions within the context of "now, next and later" helps to demystify the roadmap no matter how large the organisation or ambitious the startup.

If you’re faced with a varied set of user-journeys and wide range of functionality or tasks, producing a responsive website built on one code base that works on multiple devices will most-likely offer the best solution. Responsive sites play an important part at the initial acquisition stage too, when a user might explore and interact with a brand or service over multiple devices whilst making that choice.

Any digital deployment should be to improve the customer interaction

Once onboard, they might then have a wide range of tasks to complete and often the more complex tasks that might begin on mobile will need to finish on a desktop. A single responsive website can tick all of these boxes and provide a fantastic foundation for any company’s digital offering.

If you have a focused set of user journeys, tasks, and subsequent functionality - then you should consider looking at a native application. If you look at the most successful applications they have a specific purpose, which is what makes them worthy of a download and regular interaction. Where you identify the functionality that drives regular interaction, you’re changing the way that user behaves and brings the service closer to them. It’s that regular interaction, access to offline content and deep-linking between other apps and hardware that builds the user (and business) case for a native application.

Integration to internal back end systems, web services and third party APIs are of course core things to consider. You can have all the bells and whistles you want on a website or app, but if the right data isn’t moving towards the user and the business – you’ll be wasting budget.

All users have experiences where digital makes their day easier through responsive websites and native applications

For start-ups, it tends to be easier. They’re more often than not starting with a blank sheet. For big enterprise companies, who’ve grown both organically and through acquisition on a global scale, you’ll often have a bigger challenge to unravel. The most important things to consider are future-proofing and trying to keep the user-layer ‘light’ so that the end experience is as fluid as possible for all users, and plugging in any future developments to your data (e.g. wearables) should be an easy task.

The point of any digital deployment should be to improve the customer interaction with the business and its products or services. But it’s crucial to not limit those improvements to just your customers. Don’t forget about your internal users. The smartest balance to any digital roadmap will take into consideration true end-to-end integration not just through data systems, but through the business processes themselves.

Managing internal workflows and reporting should be fully-integrated with external facing websites and apps, empowering your staff in the same way as your customers.

To visualise this, let’s apply it to a real-life scenario:

New Customer using a Responsive Website:

  • They want help with financial planning, so they search for financial consultants over the course of a few days in different scenarios using their phone, tablet and laptop
  • Once they’ve chosen a consultancy, they use that provider’s website to login and plan their finances across everything from short to long-term goals

Long Term Customer using a Native Application:

  • As a long term customer, a native application could add value with push notifications and immediate updates or alerts surrounding changes to their financial situation
  • Quick ‘one tap’ appointment setting and integration to calendar apps could also play a part here

Financial Consultant using a Native Application:

  • Using a sales-focused app, the consultant here can have relevant information about each customer and market data at their fingertips ahead of and during client meetings
  • This app could download and store the information so that connectivity during meetings isn’t mission critical
  • Live modelling with customer data will allow for decisions to be captured through the app and sent back to the office for processing as and when connectivity is available
  • Appointment setting could also be handled with seamless calendar app integration

Internal-facing team using a Responsive Website:

  • Information comes into this secure web portal from the consultant’s native app and customer-facing website
  • Tasks are monitored and assigned
  • As tasks are completed, the relevant outputs are sent out to both customer and consultant
  • Team leaders and higher management can carry out reports on the website based on internal workflows and customer behaviour - thus driving further digital and commercial strategy

Throughout this entire scenario, all users have experiences where digital makes their day easier through responsive websites and native applications adding value where they’re needed. Initial exploration and bigger and broader tasks are suited to the responsive website solution – with focused activity being taken care of within native applications.

The most important things when considering deploying a website or app are the user and business cases, what will make the customer’s day better and what will help the business run more efficiently? With those focused goals at the heart of a roadmap, a solid IT architecture, and effective operational processes – you will be well aligned to exceed your customers’ expectations now and in the future.

What are your main considerations when deploying a responsive website or native app? Let us know in the comments.

 

If you are interested in wearables, please visit IoT Tech Expo Europe in London's Olympia, December 2-3 2015.

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