“Designing for Place” is all about how user context around venues and locations can be used to dramatically alter mobile user experiences by place. It is the solution for differentiating apps, reducing friction, getting more engagement, monetizing, and getting to the user’s home screen. Retail apps with features like store finders and online catalogues are very useful for users at home or on the go — but what about when they are in the store?
In-store modes that help users navigate retail stores or find their favorite items in stock are much more useful to users after they arrive at the retailer — and we are already seeing it happen in forward-looking apps today. The element of place will fundamentally change mobile app design for the better. Shortly, I’ll dive into how this might look with brands like Home Depot and Sephora, but let’s first talk about some essential elements.
So what makes an app vital?
A vital experience transcends basic functionality. It boils down to what makes an app something that a user doesn’t want to — or can’t — live without. As designers and developers, we can insist that a feature is vital. But until you substantiate that claim with real user data, it’s just an assumption. One thing to do is to continuously ask users for feedback on which features they use most frequently. Another thing to do is to look at a deeper cut of the data — look at usage by place.
In fact, precise location data has quickly become essential to providing richer insights into your users’ behavior and interests. Armed with this kind of contextual data on your users, you can understand how to make your app that vital part of your user’s daily life. Take the findings from your analysis and apply them towards your existing app features, helping you to better categorize and personify your user. We call this process “appticipation.”
Introducing a new world of possibilities with “Appticipation”
Appticipation is the ability for a mobile application to think ahead and know what a user will want to do. It’s done to increase engagement with the application, increase session time, and make the experience more meaningful. A major step in the process is categorizing your app functionality so you can aggregate by type. Some examples of functionality types include Discovery, Social, Profile, or Payment.
You need a balance between the list of features your app displays with when and where they are useful to your users. Not every feature in your app is useful to your users at all times, in all locations. There’s an interesting trend emerging now where apps are slowly starting to incorporate “modes” into their functionality. Retail apps use intelligence gathered from their users based on location to best serve them the functionality they may need.
We take this notion of “modes” a step further. The data we collect on where you go and what you do enables us to define who you are with our Personas capability. Imagine the kind of personalized, dynamic experiences you can deliver to users once you know who they are. Dynamic user experiences can respond to users’ intent, adapt to their location, change based on time of day, and tune to their skill level.
What are the results? Better ratings and reviews, differentiating your app in the app store, lift in average session length, an increase in daily active users, and growth in the number of sessions per day.
Let’s dive deeper into how different types of apps can leverage all of this contextual user information, envisioning new modes based on existing app features and functionality.
Appticipation for the Home Depot app
The Home Depot app is using location and context to reduce the friction between the user opening the app and finding their desired experiences. The app has two experience modes: the Default Mode, which is the standard app experience, and In-Store Mode, which is switch-activated by the user to indicate they are in the store. When in In-Store Mode, the app allows you to pick a specific store, set a preferred store, or discover the closest stores.
The Home Depot isn’t a Skyhook customer, but we can’t help ourselves when it comes to imagining what the next generation of the app looks like with appticipation. To make the process more fluid, the app UX should automatically change once the user enters a store.
We envision a new version of Store Mode: if customers have projects to work on, they can create a shopping list oriented to that project and categorize it so that Home Depot knows what their users aspire to do. The layout of the store you’re in appears on-screen, and it automatically pulls from your project shopping list, highlighting where all of your items are located in the store. Your list is also easily accessible as the first item in Store Mode.
Get more information on how Home Depot could transform their app with appticipation.
Appticipation for the Sephora app
Sephora also has a store mode, which transforms the app experiences once a user indicates they are in a store. In store mode, users can scan an item to see reviews, and order products online. They can also sign in to get rewards, access their list of saved product favorites, load a gift card for in-app use, and see their past purchase history.
Sephora isn’t a Skyhook customer, but, again, we can’t help ourselves when it comes to imagining what the next version of the app looks like with appticipation. To make the process more fluid, we recommend making the most vital “Store Mode” features more prominent once a user enters a Sephora store. Sephora should use geofencing to let the app know that a user is in a store and automatically turn on store mode as soon as the user enters the location.
In addition to automatic store mode, when users are in the store making decisions, they want different content and experiences than when they are browsing products at home. Users may do some in-app shopping while not in the store, and add certain items to their favorites list. But once they walk into the store, the app could pull from the user’s “loves” list to show them which of their favorite items are on sale in this particular store to incentivize them to buy today.
So as you deal with the challenge of launching a successful app in today’s mobile ecosystem, with the daunting stat of 50 million apps being downloaded a day, remember that vital apps are all about personalized experiences based on behavior, intent, time, and location. This new level of insight leads to a new level of engagement. And with the reality that user attrition is at an all time high — 95% of apps are abandoned within a month; 1 in 4 are abandoned after a single day — delivering value and functionality in frictionless, intuitive ways is more important than ever. Build apps that make users’ lives easier, richer, and less annoying so that they can focus on what they really want to do. Appticipation is key to user happiness and to your success.