We caught up with the company’s MD Andrew Daniels to discuss this report, along with the importance of delivering a consistent brand experience and the challenges that operators face in combining straightforward UX with innovation.
SBC: Given the amount of time people spend on their phones and tablets, and the number of apps that are now competing for our attention, is UX on mobile more important than on desktop?
AD: Great UX is equally as important on mobile and desktop so users of all platforms would be able to access these products without any hassle. Some users prefer desktop or tablet over mobile for specific gaming activities, but still use mobile for others depending on the convenience. Operators shouldn’t be neglecting their website UX to focus more on mobile – it needs to be consistent across all channels.
While working on our report, we found that lots of operators use web applications that mirror their desktop casinos on mobile. They effectively use a similar UI that adapts to a smaller screen size. Very few use native apps built specifically for a mobile platform with a considered UX.
This means that some of these features will work better on desktop, such as buttons or banners with T&Cs, however they can get quite small on mobile, which effectively makes them harder to use or see. It’s these little details that make the UX challenging and need attention.
SBC: Can you briefly explain to our readers the process of creating the scoring system used to assess the ten leading UK online casino operators?
AD: We used a standard usability review system and our knowledge of the gaming industry. The evaluation system is split into sections, such as Search or Help, so it’s easy to focus on specific areas of the website or app and take a closer look at how they work from a user’s perspective. We’ve tailored this system to be specific to casino lobbies and mobile devices, as well as determining our scores in terms of what makes an excellent or poor casino UX.
Our team reviewed both mobile websites and apps for each brand, scoring each section according to the agreed scale. We approached everything from a user’s point of view, looking at how easy it is to find the registration/login button, search for games, access help and how the product deals with errors.
SBC: Consistency between web and app casino versions was highlighted as a positive trend in your evaluation of the mobile lobbies; is it not often the case that you are looking to appease a completely different set of users across the two versions?
AD: It’s true that users between web and mobile may vary, however, the brand experience should be consistent. We’ve now moved away from single channel interactions and there are multiple touch points when users may engage with a brand.
So, it’s important that this experience stays consistent whether it’s on TV, advertising or digital products. It can be very jarring if one product is easy to use and the UX works well, while another product from the same brand is clunky and unintuitive.
User retention is one of the biggest challenges for operators as they can easily switch between brands or use different companies for betting and casino. UX can really facilitate retention and influence the user to stay if all products work smoothly.
SBC: In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges that these operators face in maintaining innovation whilst retaining a lobby that is optimised for easy gaming experience?
AD: One of the main challenges in innovation for the operators are users’ habits. Regular players are familiar with casino games and how everything works. If an operator wanted to introduce any dramatic changes, there’d be a high chance of these users dropping off due to the unfamiliarity.
This would especially affect mobile users who want to access content much quicker than desktop. While some innovation and modernisation is needed in the online casinos, it’s crucial to do it gradually or subtly. It’s worth taking note what leading brands outside of gaming do to present their content and different features, for example Spotify and Netflix.
SBC: From your experience in the industry, are casino operators best served by promoting an all-round UX or pushing hard with one key USP, for example load speed or customer service?
AD: When looking at gaming products, we often notice areas that product developers have been focusing on more than others. It seems they tend to update particular elements, such as the registration form, and not the entire product at the same time.
This can lead to some visible inconsistencies in the design and functionality. It shouldn’t be the norm that operators only focus on one area in their UX as users will engage with a number of other features over time. Even if gaming operators roll out gradual updates, they should try to ensure the entire UX is seamless.