If Bill Clinton were president of a company reliant upon Web applications for its very business life, he’d probably have yellow sticky notes all over his desktop reminding him that “It’s the User Experience, Stupid!”
With the rise of smartphones and tablets to a par with traditional desktop and laptop environments, users can get to websites or internal company sites from a number of different devices, yet they’ve come to expect the same behavior from applications rendered on each.
The problem of delivering content in a consistent, uniform way—and not merely to the lowest common form factor—is one that developers need help in solving. Organizations must now bring together graphics designers, “user experience experts,” and business-side decision-makers to help determine how an application should look and work, whether it’s delivered on a desktop or a smartphone.
“We want to make sure every touch point a customer has to a company appears seamless,” said Cedric Huesler, a product evangelist for Adobe Systems, which has been a driver in rich Web application delivery. “With these new mobile capabilities, customer experience management is so important. It’s up to companies to create [an application], understand how it’s used, and then deliver it.”
Adobe is tackling this issue by completing the integration of two recently acquired companies: Day Software, a Web content management software provider purchased in October; and Omniture, a Web analytics company purchased about a year and half ago.
Aside from the bells and whistles that can make a Web application more interesting than a mere form, it’s the analytics piece that will help companies deliver applications that are easy to use and that people will have fun using, which will make them want to use the application more often.
Huesler explained that whatever device someone wishes to use to reach an organization, those entrances should all be connected to the same reporting servers. At Adobe, “Whatever touch point [people use], we have an analytics package behind it to understand what’s happening. We can see the customer through all the interactions.”
Thus, if a company has a video on its website but notices that every user to the site drops the video after 20 seconds, “It’s likely there’s a problem with the video,” he said.
With that information in hand, the developer can begin to understand the things that users want more than other things, such as audio or video, or buttons instead of drop-down lists, or e-mail notifications. “We call that baseline mapping,” Huesler said. Then, he said, organizations can get into business-specific analytics, whereby they can track revenue based on user events.
For developers, this means getting them up to speed with each device’s capabilities and features. “The new desktop is your tablet, and people are building applications for that to access content and to drive content,” Huesler said. Media companies, such as BZ Media (the publisher of SD Times) and a host of others, are leveraging the rendering capabilities of the tablets to present an appealing presentation on their content, in some cases including audio, video, touch-screen page leafing and much more.
After all, it’s about the user experience, Mr. Clinton.
David Rubinstein is editor-in-chief of SD Times.