The One Quality that Will Make or Break your Mobile Apps: Empathy

At Storycode, much of the work we do with our clients and the Adobe DPS Enterprise platform is changing their mindset from print and web to mobile. Often, we find that of all the experiential possibilities the Adobe DPS platform enables, most fall back on a reflexive strategy to reuse print collateral, add some interactive elements and call it a day.

This approach does follow the path of least resistance, but it results in the app of least engagement. As I’ve mentioned in my earlier blog about corporate publishing, the print paradigm approach may be the fastest route to pushing out content in the new mobile frontier, but it won’t align the expectations of your targeted users.

Targeted users? “What do they have to do with our content?,” you might ask.

When print and PDF were the mainstream delivery and consumption formats for B2B communication, the content was the focus, not the delivery mechanism. Readers held a printed catalogue and turned the page or opened a flat PDF and scrolled down or side-to-side to read. Mobile devices and apps have totally disrupted that user scenario of consuming content and the questions content creators should be asking themselves are: Who are my target users? Where and how are they using their device? What are their personal motivations with our content? What goals they are trying to achieve? You can see that the line of questioning here turns towards the motivations of the content consumers.

So what does it take to understand your user and architect apps that will engage them?

Empathy.

The simple definition of empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. Empathy is at the heart of effective UX design because you are taking the time to identify with the target user of your content.  Apps have opened up new ways to navigate, interact and engage with content and without empathy for your targeted users, the old page-to-page navigation paradigm will likely be your default experience.

Storycode spends time with our clients up front creating mental models and user scenarios that map out situational behaviors. It is an exercise of empathy and uncovers feature sets, navigation options and utilities that would have never come to light if the content itself was the focus instead of the audience.