In 2018, businesses must keep up with technology in order to provide optimum user experiences – but if you haven’t been upskilled on the ins and outs of coding, apps, user experience and innovation, it can all seem a bit daunting.
To help shed some light, we invited Zoe Ghani, Chief Technology Officer at Australia and New Zealand's leading fashion and sports retailer, THE ICONIC, to share her expertise with us as part of our Women in Focus webinar series. Here are her top tips to help you use technology to your advantage.
Speak the language
If you are new to the technology space, Zoe recommends taking some short courses to expand your knowledge. “You can register for short classes without having the intention to actually write code yourself, but just to understand enough to ask the right questions,” she says. “For example, you may want to learn a bit about engineering principles before you hire an engineer.”
Once you have a basic understanding, the expert suggests getting familiar with the language and innovation-centric methodologies that underpin the sector – for example, agility and agile mindset, design thinking and Lean Startup methodology – so you can ensure your business is at the forefront.
“At THE ICONIC, we ask ourselves, ‘How can we get the most amount of learning with the least amount of effort, so that we can build something that’s valuable for our users?,” Zoe shares. “It’s about trying to fail fast.”
Seek user input
Seeking professional advice can be beneficial, but Zoe stresses customer feedback is just as important, if not more. “Don’t spend six months building a website without showing a single soul,” she advises. “Build the most important part first and show it to real customers as soon as possible.”
Whether you’ve had a website for 10 years or you’ve just launched a mobile app, ongoing customer consultation is key. “At THE ICONIC, we’re a customer-mad business which means we involve customers in the decisions we make about what to build,” Zoe says. “We have different ways of identifying what our customers are interested in, for example we conduct face-to-face interviews and surveys, and we have an ideas wall on the site where customers can vote for new features, such as being able to follow brands.”
Get familiar with mobile
Mobile has been a big focus for THE ICONIC business, which includes a mobile site, IOS and Android app. Whether you are looking to improve your existing mobile offering or building a brand new mobile site or app, Zoe has some insights that can help:
“Each device has its own natural talents and limitations.”
Different devices have different advantages when it comes to user experience. For mobile, personalised push notifications, mobile payments and geolocation tracking could all be considered benefits, while small screen size could be considered a limitation.
Zoe’s top tip? “Create designs of your new functionality or new website on a mobile screen first, because it’s much easier to have your functionality fit into the mobile first and then scale out for desktop.”
“Mobile is only one part of the cross-device journey.”
As Zoe explains, most users are on more than one device and they use different devices for different reasons. “An example of this is that we find that people will wish list an item on the app, and then go and view it on desktop,” Zoe says. “It’s good to be mobile-obsessed, but it’s important to see it in the context of the user journey holistically.”
“Driving app adoption is a multi-channel effort.”
If you want to direct users to a different technology platform (like an app), Zoe recommends using a call to action that is contextually relevant. “Over time, we’ve learnt that the generic ‘try our app’ stuff doesn’t work as well as when we do it contextually,” Zoe says.
“An example of this is placing a ‘Download the app to track your order’ link on the order confirmation page on desktop,” she says. “We’ve found that is a useful place to tell people about the app and they respond really well.”
Don’t rush in
THE ICONIC’s app users are highly engaged, which makes having an app worthwhile, but Zoe recommends proceeding with caution. Apps be expensive to build and maintain – which can make releasing new features and fixing bugs a tricky process.
If you are considering investing in an app, the expert suggests weighing up three factors: The problem you are trying to solve, your business priorities, and the cost. “Ask yourself, ‘What is it about my app that would propel a user to come back and not forget about it after the initial download?’,” she suggests. “Consider what value-add your app is providing, and whether it’s different enough from your desktop or mobile site experience that it will propel customers to use it.”