Lowell Ballard, Director of Geospatial Solutions for Timmons Group, discusses the importance of making users feel like a part of your company’s ecosystem by developing a mobile portfolio.
In last month’s article, I focused on the concept of how to roll out your mobile offerings and creating a mobile portfolio. The article, “David or Goliath: Your Mobile GIS Portfolio,” centered around key decisions any successful company will face when delving into the production of mobile applications. This key decision centers on creating a single (typically larger) application that works to solve many business needs at once or, conversely, creating a set of smaller (more focused) applications. These smaller applications typically are lighter in scope, complexity and are honed in on a particular business need. I also previously highlighted the importance of being an advocate for the creation of smaller more focused applications, if at all possible. It’s much easier to turn around a dinghy versus the Titanic and this was a key argument for advocating the development of smaller applications.
This month I will discuss some important things to consider when creating smaller applications as well as the successful development of a “portfolio” for your mobile products. I will use Google as an example because they are a highly-complex organization with aggressive growth strategies. Google has many products in their portfolio. It’s their corporate goal to create an “ecosystem” of ways to interact with you, get your attention, solve a problem for you and of course, drive a few highly-tailored ads your way in the process. Examples of these applications include Google+, Google Search, Google Play, and everyone’s favorite – Google Maps. Every one of these applications resides on my iPad. While Google wants your experience to be consistent and positive in all of these applications, they also made a concerted effort not to unify them into the “Google Universal Engine” iPad application. They are part of the Google Ecosystem – but they are a collection of dinghies, not the Titanic.
In order to make your users feel like they are part of your “ecosystem” you have to ensure they know they are working with one of your applications. A key consideration comes early in the process through identification and brand standardization. This means many things to a variety of people; however, at its core it’s a very simple concept. As an organization you need to have standards for how you present yourself. The most common sense standard is your logo. While it doesn’t always have to be exactly the same – it needs to have a set of options that are consistent. Examples may include a color version and a black-and-white version, or perhaps a vertical and horizontal version. The important thing is that a set that should be used across all media types (digital, print, etc.). If you are creating a series of mobile applications, it should be understood that the logo needs to exist and should be consistent from application to application. Another, perhaps less intuitive, consideration is the fonts you use in your applications. Again, fonts can very subtle or very compelling. Fonts alone can very easily help you to identify with a company. If you look at Google’s previous font – it is highly consistent both in the company name and product offering.
This connects us to them and ensures we know we’re part of the Google ecosystem and have not jumped off to another application. Next month I will continue on this theme of creating your own ecosystem and ensuring that, when users are part of it, they know they’re part of it – whichever part that may be.