SES Miami Preview: Google’s Tech Lead Maile Ohye

maile-ohye-headshotSES Miami is coming to sunny Florida in less than two months, and in advance of her keynote presentation on March 26, Google’s Maile Ohye is giving us a sneak peek of the valuable insights she plans to share with attendees about the importance of mobile, customer-centered design and cross-device usage in 2015.

Search Engine Watch (SEW): In the description for your keynote presentation, “Evolving in Our Multi-Device World,” you mention that businesses should prioritize customer-centered design. Why do you think it is important for business to focus on that?

Maile Ohye (MO): Today’s difference-maker is ensuring that your business’ cross-device, cross-channel experience delivers at every customer touch point. Figure out what customers really want rather than what’s easiest for your business. I’ve heard stories like, “We’re thinking of building a native app rather than a mobile website because it’s easier to hire app developers than wait for our in-house developers to learn mobile.” My response is, “Have you checked if your customers willing to spend the time to download and install an app?” That’s customer-centered design. Start with your customers’ needs and continually think of your customers, make compromises as needed, and iterate. Don’t start with your business needs and limitations and then expect customers to change their desires or behaviors.

SEW: Can you share how you feel consumer behavior has changed since the multi-device experience became predominant?

MO: Studies show that the human attention span is less than that of a goldfish. Most Web readers don’t “read,” but skim. What does this mean? Does the shortest article win? Should you omit detail on your product listings? No, thankfully those aren’t the answers. What this means is that we need to focus on ideas like customer-centered design. Serve the customer correctly in each context, on each device, with a fast-loading, intuitive experience. If they’re looking through a category, let them scroll quickly with clear thumbnails and product basics. If they’re on a product page, give them all the detail they might want or make an easy way for customers to contact support.

SEW: Give us some insights on how Google approaches the consumers shift toward multiple mobile platforms.

MO: As a company, we’re working to evolve just as quickly as consumer behavior. Mocks and templates are now mobile-first, and we’re all figuring out how to write and design for mobile, and how to quickly share best practices among teams across the company. It’s definitely a world of innovation and iteration. At SES Miami, I’ll share a recent example of how a customer-centered approach put us on the right track for Google Webmaster Central mobile support.

SEW: Tell us about the multi-device trends to watch in 2015.

MO: Yes, very exciting! Three things: I’m curious to see if mobile conversions/purchases trends closer to desktop numbers as mobile usability improves. And speaking of mobile experiences, currently, brands use their mobile site as a paired down desktop experience – how will mobile websites become more creative and customer-centered in 2015? Last, app marketing… It feels like we’ve gone back in time. For native apps, we see interstitials in your face; horrible screenshots in the app store; apps that force users to login immediately or abandon. Much can be done to integrate and share best practices between native app, mobile website, desktop, and tablet experiences. Hopefully, in 2015 there will be less money left on the table.

SEW: What is the biggest takeaway attendees will get from your upcoming session?

MO: I hope they feel empowered and inspired to get back to their jobs and make great cross-device experiences. You don’t have to be brilliant or the most creative, just being human and using a customer-centered approach can take a business to the top.

Maile Ohye will be speaking at 9 a.m. on Thursday, March 26 in a session entitled “Evolving in Our Multi-Device World.”

Get your ticket to SES Miami by registering here!

The SES event series will also take place in Atlanta in July and in Denver in October.

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