Our last post, What Makes an Auction Roar, we talked about the creating a fun and engaging bidder experience order to keep bidders engaged and bidding. If you have not read it yet, we recommend that you start there and then jump back over here to learn more about our unique approach to this.
Some of the most important elements of a successful auction include ensuring bidders are connected to your auction and keeping them engaged, excited and bidding often. Bidding from a smartphone is a great way to do this. It also allows bidders to bid from anywhere, expand the auction time, and provide updates to users when they are outbid. But not all solutions are the same.
The better the experience bidders have using a mobile bidding solution the more they will bid. This in turn will influence other bidders to bid. You want this to snowball effect, but this can’t really get going if the user interface is suboptimal or difficult to navigate.
If bidders find it difficult to login, bid, see their current status, find items, receive notifications or manage payment, they will disconnect and not continue to bid. Instead of creating a positive snowball effect this instead creates the opposite spiral effect as their lack of activity will reduce the overall activity in the auction and result in less bids and revenue (remember, one person’s bid prompts and indirectly challenges someone else to respond). Thus, getting the interface “right” is crucial.
So what makes an optimal user interface? The best mobile bidding UI should have the following characteristics:
- Simple and Intuitive. Bidders should be able to figure out how to use the interface on their own with little instruction or direction. Any good user interface should make the bidder feel smart.
- Fast and Instant. Auctions can get hectic. Especially at the end when everyone is racing to get their final bids submitted. Users expect the UI to be responsive and fast. They don’t want to wait to watch the page load and they don’t want to fight the navigation to get through items and screens. Moreover, if the price of an item changes or the user is outbid, the app should instantly update to notify the bidder.
- Accurate. The current bid, bid increments, item information and status (available, sold, etc.) should be always accurate. Bidders should not have to wonder if their current price is correct.
- Integrated. Messages and notifications should happen inside of the interface. Having to leave the screen at a critical time to read an outbid text message disrupts the bidder’s flow and will slow down their ability to place bids.
- Cooperative. Users hate fighting with an interface. Instead the interface should cooperate with the user and not interfere with other things they are doing like talking, eating, drinking and having a good time. For example, a mobile bidding tool should be usable with one hand, with the logical assumption the user is holding a cocktail or appetizer in the other. Making the user put down their drink to type in a bid is an example of the UI not being cooperative.
Why we built our native Handbid app
At Handbid, we feel that the best way to provide an interface that is simple, intuitive, fast, accurate, integrated and cooperative is through an app that runs on the phone (we call that a “native app”). Almost every other solution offered in this industry is a web site accessed through the phone’s built in web browser (we call that a “web app”).
Web apps are good for looking up movie times or searching google, but they are not a good solution for bidding in a competitive silent auction due to their slow speed, lack of effective and efficient real time communication with bidders and worst of all, the need to wait for a page to load that is typical when one moves between web pages in a browser.
Countless debates exist about native apps vs. web apps, but the results speak for themselves. We have yet to find a web app that provides a simple, fast, accurate, integrated and cooperative user interface for mobile bidding. In fact, we have not found any web apps that are as fast, accurate, simple and integrated as their native counterparts in any industry.
Take the Facebook and LinkedIn apps for example. Both companies have rebuilt their mobile interfaces around native apps for iPhone and Android. Jonanthan Dann, a software engineer at Facebook said, “One of the biggest advantages we've gained from building on native iOS has been the ability to make the app fast.”
Moreover, Mark Zukerberg, Facebook’s CEO called Facebook’s bet on web apps to be one of their biggest mistakes: “When I’m introspective about the last few years I think the biggest mistake that we made, as a company, is betting too much on HTML5 (“Web app”) as opposed to native… because it just wasn’t there.
LinkedIn, Xero, Wunderlist and others have all made this same decision, and all for the same reason. C.K. Sample, EVP of Technology and Engineering at Chaotic Moon Studios, thinks it’s because “we’re engineered to understand [touch] better than anything else.” Sample added that “non-native solutions flounder because they’ll always be, even ever so slightly, less performant and less responsive than well-coded native experiences.”
We can’t agree more. Our Handbid native app provides a bidder experience that is unparalleled in the mobile auction space. This means more fun and engagement for the bidder and more revenue for your auction. We will continue to improve our app and our user interface to make it even more simple, faster, more cooperative, and more fun. We look forward to your future success on Handbid.
In a future follow up post, we will open up a discussion on the common objections we hear about a native app. Meanwhile, if you have any questions about our approach or our apps, please feel free to comment here or drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.