The mobile customer journey is now perhaps the most important of interaction points with consumers and one where player expectations happen to be at their highest.
For all the money spent on marketing and acquiring customers, it will be initial user experience that will determine whether the customer signs up and plays with the site in question.
It makes initial impressions when visiting a mobile site particularly vital. A recent review by development and design agency Degree 53 of the top mobile casino lobbies was undertaken in order to further increase awareness of the differing approaches taken by operators and uncover some of the key trends visible in the offers from the leading names in the sector.
On the positive side of the ledger, the review found that many mobile offerings now use functionality from native mobile apps and that there was a strong focus on registration and customer support.
Yet, there were some issues that suggest the mobile gaming experience remains a work in progress, including a difference in user interface before and after login, lack of search functionality and apparent bugs and slow functionality across many of the offerings.
Andrew Daniels, managing director at the Manchester-based company, said there was evidence that there were apparent differences between the mobile and desktop of many offerings. He added that this was an issue for the brand and not just a UX problem.
“We touch on this a little bit in the report; you don’t want a completely different performance across mobile and desktop,” he says. “That is a brand experience rather than a user experience, but the two are interrelated.”
A few years back, when the adoption of mobile was taking place across the industry at speed, Daniels says, the split between mobile and desktop teams made sense. But now, he adds, you need to have one team covering the whole UX horizon.
“We create different features and use an adaptive approach, but all within one codebase,” he says. “The world is moving towards component based designs.”
An adaptive approach will enable designers to fully explore the opportunities afforded by the mobile, says Mick Robins, a director at Fenway Games, the company behind the SnapBet instant bet product.
“Mobile offers a fantastic playground for innovation partly because the broader mobile eco-system demands it and therefore your customers demand it,” he says.
He suggests that designers should ensure they have the right financial commitment and budget to meet their strategic targets. “Companies should over-invest in innovation and foster a more entrepreneurial culture across your organisation so that failure is OK, as long as the organisation learns from it and then goes on to make a smarter (more profitable) decision.”
Daniels also decried the lack of invention that he suggests was apparent when looking at the offerings as a class. However, he says, there should also be a clear emphasis on “getting the basics right.”
“If you are a slots player, you know what you are getting into,” he says, “So give them some pre-game information, maybe a look at the game, let them know the RTP. Those don’t change with new gaming concepts.”
“Don’t place too much focus on the future,” he says. “The whole thing about me-too is that people are spending a lot of money on something other people have already spent time on.”
With casino offerings, he says more operators should understand that their app can be looked at as a store front. “Netflix has the best recommendations, for instance,” he says. “It creates pseudo-groups. This has to be the way that operators should approach casino lobby design. It satisfies the need to do something different. With casinos, operators can look at similar themed groups”
One area where designers can help themselves in is the use of native functionality. “Native usually offers a much richer range of features and functionality, that when used properly will increase efficiencies across acquisition, boost engagement and monetisation,” says Robins.
“Another consideration is that technologies are developing at a real pace, and so working with specialist technologists can really help make the right decision,” he adds. He points to the example of ReactNative which he says has improved immeasurably as a framework and so can often deliver native-like solutions, but with the more efficient development costs associated with a cross-platform and mobile internet strategy.
Daniels agrees that adaptability is key. “If it’s an app, you want it to look like an app, not a website,” he says. “To a trained eye it should be obvious what is web and what is native, but to a user it should feel a lot slicker.”