Stop Trying To Predict Mobile Users Needs

Mobile Phone with "Banish the Myth" on the screen.

Mobile Phone with

It’s time to banish the myth that you can predict what a user will need on a mobile device.

You can’t do it.

The closest you can get to predicting the needs of a mobile user is to give them context aware information. Even then you won’t be close most of the time. They need to be able to find what they want on their mobile device, no matter what it is.

If it is necessary, it needs to be mobile. If it is not necessary, get rid of it.

When developing or designing anything mobile, our assumption needs to be that our audience expects everything, everywhere, anytime.

Cut the Fat

We don’t throw everything from the desktop onto a mobile device, that isn’t necessary.

It means we need to start with mobile.

Plan for necessities to go into the mobile version and leave out the rest, from all versions including the desktop version. If it’s not necessary then it doesn’t belong there, or anywhere, get rid of it.

The Olden Days

When mobile was new, expectations weren’t high, if you could check your flight time from your phone, that was pretty cool. That day is gone, expectations for what can be done on your mobile device are growing every day.

The number of people who use their mobile phone as their primary device to access the internet is growing every day.

My wife has access to a computer anytime. Her preference, and now primary device, is her mobile phone. It’s becoming my primary device also.

I’m sitting at a computer now to write this, but it’s been a while. I get cranky when I have to withhold performing an action for when I’m at a computer, I want to do it wherever I am.

Satisfy Your Customer

Make your customer’s life easier. Think for a second who your customer is. Do you want them to have to tailor their behavior to your product? Your answer should be no, you want to cater to their needs.

Apps are a good solution for things that a user will need on a regular basis, but why make them download an app if they’re performing a once a month activity.

A mobile web site is required. Not everybody wants 187 apps like me. They just won’t think to go download an app, and don’t want to even if you throw it in their face.

Think of the mobile browser as your primary window to your customer.

My wife will visit a web site to look for information. If it’s not mobile friendly, she will suffer the agony, but why make a potential customer suffer?

Make it as easy as possible and always look at your user’s experience from a path of least resistance. Don’t make them work for it, and don’t limit their options depending on their device.

Making it as easy as possible means never ever, ever, ever trying to predict what your user may need on a mobile device and delivering only that to them. Chances are you’re going to irritate somebody.

Deliver the World

I no longer expect a different version with watered down features when I’m browsing a web site on my phone. I expect it all and I expect it formatted just for my device, no matter what device I happen to be on.

That means when we’re planning a mobile strategy for learning, don’t try to predict what the user will want or need. That doesn’t mean we should throw everything at them. It means we need to plan from the beginning mobile requirements, you might know this as mobile first.

In other words, humans first.

You are designing something to be accessed by a human, one that’s already overwhelmed and has little time as it is. Don’t add to the stress, deliver the world. By that I mean what’s required, and leave out the rest from ALL devices.

If a user might need information, have it available somewhere by search, and always make it work on any device they choose.

Sounds Simple

Sounds simple enough, but I know better. I keep it in mind every minute and it’s still no easier than when I was first introduced to the concept.

We live in an age where we can no longer give the most basic functions to mobile users and full functionality to the desktop. One may never experience the desktop version. Mobile should do everything necessary and that which is not necessary should be cut.

Give me this:

I want to have the option to do anything from my mobile device, not just the most used stuff. I want to change my preferences, my password, everything via mobile. If I can’t do everything, chances are I’m going to leave disappointed.

Don’t leave disappointed customers.