So often we come across companies who have web and mobile as separate verticals. There can be many reasons for this. One being the fact that that web over time might have found its natural place in the organization. Whilst mobile is seen as something new and different – and thereby is organized and treated as a special entity.
To succeed digitally, it is crucial that one manages to organize and make use of web and mobile in a complementary combination.
There needs to be a coherent strategy to make sure that none of the digital channels water out or create barriers for each other.
It is the mobile channel that predominantly suffers from these colliding efforts, and to be more precise it is usually in the context of apps.
The reason this happens is due to how services most likely have been released in time and the fact that no one has taken a step back. A step back to look at the intention of each individual initiative in relation to the total offering and overall goal.
Let me explain further. Say you started off with a desktop (big screen) web solution and sooner than later :) adjusted this experience for mobile through the making of a responsive site. You now have an 1:1 offering across web and mobile – accessible from the browser. This is good, especially because responsive web via the browser, no matter, will be an acceptable fallback solution for whatever you might do on mobile later. Then, somewhere down the lane, there is the realization that you might be missing out on mobile distribution via the app stores. The quick fix often initiated, is to wrap the web experience in a thin app (basically an app with an internal browser window) and make it available in the app stores. Since this is one of the first mobile app solutions containing core content it is branded with the company’s main logo and name. Note that this implicitly is telling end users that this is where they’ll find the main mobile optimized gateway to the brand experience.
At a later stage, initiatives occur within the company to make better use of the mobile toolbox. The reasoning being e.g:
- better user experience / performance / tactility / navigation / presentation / functionality / usability
- to differentiate the mobile experience from (the “free”) web
- or simply because one realizes that one isn’t just competing against direct players in the local industry, but also against global Internet giants who are utilizing all the possibilities native mobile is giving them.
So you put time and money in a new native app initiative, with strategic reasons for doing so. But how does this new entity fit in overall? How will end users intuitively perceive it? And will existing users migrate or alter their user behavior by you simply adding a new item to the list? Also remember that in regards to branding and naming some alternatives are at this stage already taken.
This is where one has to take a step back and have a look at the whole portfolio. Is there any functional or content overlap between the mobile solutions offered? If so, should you merge or remove existing app entities? How is your mobile portfolio perceived branding wise? Should you rename / rebrand or remove existing app entities? Your choices decide which channels your users will be consuming from.
Although a relatively trivial task, this is probably where it gets political. Often due to organizational structures and the individual goals of these. The wrapped web app might belong to a different vertical (than the newcomer) and is in that sense defending those grounds (e.g. ad revenues), whilst the new app is the “cannibalizing” newcomer. The fight is on…
Having a coherent digital strategy is being conscious about what you are offering, why you are offering it and how customers perceive and act on your offering. Optimizing or altering user behavior starts with cleaning up your portfolio because that is the only way you can make sure that users will end up where you want them to be. Merging functionality and/or removing app entities is the only way to go.
Happy spring cleaning…