One Ring to Rule Them All – Mobile as a Hub


The increasing role that mobile plays in our lives is quite staggering.  Our adoption of mobile as our personal hub technology seems to be outstripping other adoption trends.  Are you using mobile as a hub for your customers, or are you still attached to your website as the interface mechanism?  Look at what the users are doing personally to uncover the possibilities for your brand user experience.  Mobile is becoming the hub for their life.

If you are not looking at the trend of increasing mobile usage to access services, you are about to be left flat-footed.  The most recent USA Touchpoints survey by the Media Behavior Institute showed mobile usage over time increasing by 8.5% (a 4% increase for tablets, as well) while traditional computer (desktop and laptop) usage dropped by 5%.

Taking it One Step Further

Most brands have had a computer-first, mobile-second mentality for design.  The truly forward thinking have changed that thinking into a mobile-first design strategy.  If you aren’t convinced that this is the way you should be designing, read this article from Joshua Johnson at Design Shack.  His discussion regarding graceful degradation vs. progressive enhancement gives words to my thought that mobile access is typically a stripped version of my computer experience.

Just designing for mobile first isn’t enough, though.  This trend of increasing mobile usage creates an opportunity for mobile to be much more.  Those who seize this opportunity will be given top of mind consideration by consumers that will translate to increased spending.  Mobile doesn’t have to be just a window into your products and services.  It can be a hub for your whole entire user experience.

Mobile as a Hub – early examples

As I was thinking about this topic the first example that came to mind was the television experience.  Every provider has rolled out some version of their offering on mobile devices.  Dish has the DishAnywhere app.  The app has the ability to set up recordings, watch live tv, watch content off the DVR and watch on-demand content.

Time Warner also has a similar offering, TWC TV.  Their’s has what some consider to be a design defect, but when I think about mobile as a hub, I look at it as a possible feature.  Time Warner’s Whole House DVR system doesn’t allow the play-back box in your bedroom to set recordings.  The work around is to use their mobile app to set recordings.  This is forcing mobile as a hub for their television services.

Another example in the retail space is Apple’s own Apple Store app.  You can schedule your genius appointment, get product information and even pay for product without talking to a store employee.  This last feature is quite delighting.  The first time you use it you think it can’t possibly work, that someone will talk to you before you leave.  I think there is so much more that can be done with it.

Mobile as a Hub – future example

I think the future for mobile in the retail experience will include augmented reality.  Using mobile as the hub through which the in-store experience is enhanced may even reverse the showrooming trend which is gutting retail’s receipts.  An app that looks at my possible purchase by scanning the barcode and then displays user reviews right in that screen would be well received.  Now add to that suggested purchases that might go with that pair of shoes or that shirt, and you have just made fashion easy for the fashion challenged.

Concluding Thoughts

Mobile-first design and mobile as a hub will also rely quite strongly on user data, both collection and use.  As you are embarking on this journey, always remember privacy by design and early (effective) legal engagement.

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