Jun 24, 2013

MailChimp’s New Mobile Experience

New MailChimp is now live on all data centers around the world, and waiting for you the next time you log in. A lot of careful consideration went into New MailChimp, as you might have gathered from our recent blog posts, but there’s more we’d like to share.

As mentioned in our first announcement about New MailChimp, a mountain of research about how our customers and the world in general are using mobile devices helped us see how the next generation of MailChimp could better serve the modern workflow.

What’s changed

We wanted to share some of our findings with you, not just because it’s fascinating to learn how our world is changing, but also because we want you to see where we’re coming from with these changes.

In case you’re just catching wind of New MailChimp, here’s a quick summary of what’s new:

  • We’ve made MailChimp responsive so it works on lots of different devices, especially tablets
  • We’ve optimized mission-critical sections, like the subscriber table for mobile and desktop
  • We’ve introduced a new navigation design that uses space more efficiently, and collapses down into pro mode so you can focus on your work
  • We’ve shaved seconds off the campaign building process by simplifying many of the steps
  • We’ve made search ubiquitous in MailChimp, so you can always find campaigns, lists, and subscribers when you need them

Broad trends in mobile usage

Our research began with an in-depth look at industry trends around mobile devices. Anecdotally, I think we all know that mobile devices are playing a big role in our work and personal lives. It seems like everyone has a smartphone, and so many people now have a tablet too. The stats tell a bigger story, though. In just a few short years, mobile devices have quickly become pervasive.
The number of mobile-connected devices exceeded the number of people on earth at the end of 2012. By 2016, there will be 1.4 mobile devices per capita. Research suggests that we will soon go from six billion connections today to more than 12 billion by 2020. That’s a lot of connections, and that means we’re always working and communicating—no matter where we are.

By 2015, more Americans will access the internet through mobile devices than through desktop computers, according to a prediction by the International Data Corporation. Mobile usage is climbing simply because more of us have multiple devices, and we’re using them all in a continuum.

More than 75% of US adults own laptop or desktop computers, 44% own a smartphone, and 18% own a tablet, and more than one in 10 Americans now own the troika of digital devices: computer, smartphone, and tablet. UK households now own on average three different types of internet-enabled devices.

Mobile devices aren’t a trend in our lives; they’re our new reality. We’re all quickly becoming multi-device users, starting tasks in one place and picking them up on another, reaching for the right device for the situation. There’s a new continuum in our workflows, and the software we’re designing for our new world needs to be aware of context. It needs to adapt to let you work on various devices.
The desktop, though still critical to our work, is no longer the de facto starting point. When the workday no longer accommodates the workload, people find time to be productive in their personal lives, and their mobile devices are often their weapon of choice.
Research shows that we’re using our mobile devices everywhere:

  • 84% at home
  • 80% during miscellaneous downtime throughout the day
  • 76% waiting in lines or waiting for appointments
  • 69% while shopping
  • 64% at work
  • 62% while watching TV (alternative study claims 84%)
  • 47% during commute to work

In Google’s recent study on cross-channel user behavior, they discovered an interesting insight about the perception users have of their devices.

“This combination of device accessibility and spur-of-the-moment usage to get something done leads to a sense of ‘found time’. Consumers use these ‘micro-moments’ across multiple screens to search, shop, communicate and keep entertained.”

Love it or hate it, we’re always connected. Work is bleeding into personal time on the couch, in line at the grocery store, and even in bed. The ubiquity of our connection to the world makes us feel like we’re finding more time to get things done.
Usage patterns of these devices tell us even more about user behavior. By analyzing 3G data traffic, you can see that smartphones are used in frequent, short burst sessions throughout the day. Tablets are used in longer sessions, often in the evening on the couch or in bed. And it’s no surprise that computers are used in much longer sessions during work hours, then go quiet when people are back at home.

new-mailchimp-research-01

This helps us understand the relationships between devices: We check in quickly with our smartphones when we have a moment. We sit back and relax with our tablets in the evening hours on the couch or in bed. Short bursts and leisurely long sessions are an extension of the workday spent at a desktop, and all of them can serve as a starting or ending point for a task. 90% of consumers begin a task on one device and then complete it on another device, and smartphones are quickly becoming the most popular starting point for tasks. Why? Because they’re the most convenient computers, always within reach.

Tablets

Speaking of tablets, the market is exploding. Tablet sales have grown 78.4% year-over-year, which exceeded 128 million units. But this is just the beginning for tablets: shipments are expected to surpass desktop PCs in 2013, and portable PCs in 2014. A Pew Internet Research survey of 9,513 U.S. adults ending August 2012 found 22% of US adults owned a tablet computer. That’s twice the number from a year earlier. The same survey noted that 52% of tablet owners said they own an iPad, 48% said they own an Android device, 21% of which were Amazon Kindle Fires based on the Android operating system.

The continuum experience

The more we investigated behaviors around mobile devices, the clearer it became that we needed to create a new continuum experience for MailChimp that crosses devices. People start and complete tasks where it’s most convenient when it’s most pressing, agnostic of the device. They want to take advantage of micro-moments to find the time to get more done.

But in a continuum, the experience and functionality doesn’t need to be exactly the same on every device. We learned through customer interviews that people often need to send a campaign from their phone after they get the go-ahead from the boss, but they don’t necessarily need to design the whole thing on a small screen. They might start a design on a tablet or a laptop, then later tweak the subject line and send from a phone. Some tasks, like monitoring campaign stats, are common on all devices.

new-mailchimp-research-02

We considered these context issues carefully when designing New MailChimp. MailChimp is now responsive–ready for designing and report monitoring on 7” tablets and above, and efficient on the desktop too. Though New MailChimp works in a pinch on small screens, native apps are often the best way to create an elegant experience on smartphones. That’s why we’re preparing to launch a brand new MailChimp iPhone app that will help you extend your desktop and tablet workflow. A new MailChimp for Android will be coming soon too.

Creating the continuum experience in MailChimp

From the volume of research that led to the new app, we created a cross-platform, ready-to-work service that addresses the modern workflow. There are so many pieces of MailChimp that fit together to make the foundation of a cross-device continuum.
The web app is responsive, tablet-optimized, and even works on smartphones for simple tasks. That’s a big deal, as few web apps as sophisticated as MailChimp have been able to pull that off. The collaboration features we added recently let you comment on campaigns with your colleagues from any email client, whether you’re on a smartphone, tablet, or desktop, no login required.

You can start designing campaigns on a tablet or desktop, then press send with your smartphone from the back of a cab when you get the thumbs up from your team. We made search prominent and always accessible, because research shows that as people move between devices in a continuum experience, search is how they pick up where they left off in a prior session.

If you’re using AlterEgo, our two-factor authentication app that strengthens the security of your account while giving you a 10% discount, you can use a text message to your smartphone as a challenge confirming your identity. Using multiple devices you can keep your account and your identity more secure.

And because we know your subscribers are also part of the mobile revolution, our new drag and drop editor automatically creates responsive emails so all campaigns are mobile-ready by default. You don’t have to trouble yourself with media queries and other technical stuff. Press a button in the editor and we’ll push a mobile preview directly to your smartphone for testing.

Our research has shown us how mobile devices are changing the way we work. We couldn’t wait for the world to pass us by before we made some big changes that will ensure MailChimp continues to work for you, well into the future. We listen hard and change fast, and we’ll keep doing our best to provide powerful tools that are easy to use.