It’s the Platform, Stupid: Why Different Devices Need Different Kinds of Content

I was at a product manager’s gathering a while ago, and the topic of video came up. Someone threw out the idea of taking short-form video — say, 90-second clips, the kinds of video you watch on mobile phones and laptops — and having it available on internet TV, which one would navigate using a standard remote control. “There’s nothing wrong with that,” the manager said. Well, yeah, there’s actually a lot wrong with that.

First of all, the content. When video first came to life online, brands tried to repurpose television clips for the web. What we found out is that those were way too long for the online user experience, and videos got progressively shorter. Why we now think that we should repurpose that shorter video for the television platform, where I’m less likely to be browsing for snippets and more likely to want to settle in on the couch for a while, I don’t know.

Second, navigating from my remote? Did you ever try to search for a particular movie on-demand with your remote? It reminds me of texting on my circa-2005 cell phone, pressing the same button multiple times to get the letter I want. Definitely not an elegant or easy user experience. In other words, the content that works on a web browser is not necessarily great on internet TV, or any other platform.

Another example: mobile users are often looking for different things than those who are on desktops. According to SearchEngineLand, mobile keyword searches for State Farm Insurance focused on finding phone numbers and getting roadside assistance — neither of which was front-and-center on the company’s otherwise well-structured mobile site. By meeting mobile users’ specific needs on the mobile platform, State Farm could get even more traffic, leads, and business.

In this case, a different platform should have meant emphasizing a different kind of content. Anytime you’re looking at a new platform for your brand, it’s important to really look at the reasons for using that new platform before trying to port over content and the user experience that you already have working elsewhere.

Some questions to ask yourself:
1. What are users doing on this platform?
2. Where are they?
3. How much time to do they have?
4. What are they looking for?
5. What does this platform do differently (better or worse) that I should account for?
6. What service can I provide here that my brand doesn’t provide elsewhere?
7. How can I use metrics to determine some of these answers?

How can you challenge yourself and your company to deliver a customized, relevant user experience on each platform you test?

[Photo: Adrian Clark/Flickr]

About this Gun

Lisa Schneider

Lisa Schneider

is an expert in digital strategy, product development and user experience. She has leveraged her skills and insights to help multi-platform brands across various categories expand their footprint, engagement level, and revenue in the digital space (online, social media, mobile, and gaming). Follow @lisaschneider64.