Give Me a Choice! Why Residents Will Thank You for Mobile Optimization

by The Doctor on February 4, 2015

why-residents-will-thank-you-for-mobile-optimizationWhile making a hotel reservation the other day, (online, at the  hotel website, of course), I was informed that a new feature was available: the self-serve kiosk! This latest advancement in hospitality technology would allow me to check in by simply scanning the QR code on my confirmation email (which would be on my smartphone) and then unlock my room using the code provided. When checking out, I would log in, confirm the charges, and have a PDF of the receipt emailed to me. No fuss, no keys, and no pesky human involved!

So why am I not thrilled? No standing in line, no patiently listening to a desk clerk reciting the scripted welcome message without ever looking me in the eye, no key to misplace or demagnetize – I must be in hotel heaven, right? No, not exactly – I still like pesky humans. Sometimes. And I like playing the game called “where can I put my key so it’s still there and it still works when I get back to my room at night?”. Sometimes. At least give me a choice, because sometimes I just want to get into my room as quickly and easily as possible, and sometimes I want to interact with another human.

It’s kinda like shopping at the local Lowes. I can go through the checkout line with a cashier, where a cashier rings up and bags my merchandise, hands me a receipt and thanks me for shopping at Lowes. Or, I can go to the self-serve lane and scan the stuff myself, while the automated cashier prints my receipt and displays “Thank You!” on the screen. If you want my money, give me a choice. A real choice, please.

What’s a real choice? Letting me select between two equally effective ways to interact with your business. And that’s where things can get ugly with mobile. If your business doesn’t offer a site that is specifically optimized for mobile viewing, but instead, forces me to look at a site designed for a full-size web browser, the only choice I have is to get a phablet or go old school!

According to usability guru Jakob Nielson, (the guy has a Ph.D in human-computer interaction and has authored numerous books, including “Mobile Usability”), the mobile site should comply with the same five quality components as a browser-based website:

• Easy to use
• Efficient
• Memorability
• Error-free
• User satisfaction

In other words, if your mobile site doesn’t perform as well or better than your full site, you have not given me a choice, and I’m likely to not use your mobile site. Some people may take it a step further and just not do business with you.
Convenience and ease of use are top of mind for most people. So it’s essential to offer residents ways to interact with you that satisfy most, if not all, of Nielson’s usability goals.

Paying rent is a fine example of giving your residents a choice. Online rent payment options allow residents to decide their preferred method to pay their community manager. Plus, they can do so from a regular computer or a mobile device – either by visiting the provider’s mobile optimized site, or in some cases, by downloading a mobile app. From there, they can make a one-time or recurring payment, and even sign up for payment reminders and notifications. And of course, old school residents can still drop off a paper check if that is their choice.

The better your community can accommodate your residents and seem more like a home, the less likely they’ll move. Really.

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