Quick Tips for Developing User-Friendly Mobile Apps
So you’ve spent heaps of time, money, and expertise developing your mobile app. And here you are now, crossing your fingers for the big launch—mostly because you don’t want people to just download it; you want them to actually enjoy using it. Well. If you’re beyond keen to do the latter, then I’ve got 3 words for you: great user experience.
Before we delve into usability, let’s look at apps from the user’s perspective:
- The average user understands design with purpose. If an app doesn’t instantly make sense, s/he will feel little to zero pain in deleting it.
- The average user has certain expectations for how an app should function, and appreciates ease of use and intuitiveness. The sooner s/he sees the app’s immediate value, the more eager s/he becomes to use it.
- The average user is impatient. S/he doesn’t want to read instructions or do any work for the app to function. Design according to how users think and s/he might just urge others to give your app a try.
- The average user has ever-changing needs, and therefore embraces regular updates and improvements, specifically with regard to new features and functionality.
Now that we know how apps are generally perceived, how do we make yours more user-friendly? Simple: know your users, prioritize performance, keep testing, and be consistent.
UX Design Process
Understand your users.
Your users’ goals matter more than your own. That being said, you need to know your users at a very deep level, understand what they seek to accomplish, and put triggers in their path accordingly. Once you've got those out of the way, think realistically about how your app will be used. While traveling? Or, perhaps, while waiting in line for coffee? From there, ask more specific questions: how many features do they need? Should I consider developing more than one app? How many layers will it require?
The key here is to always remember that your app will be out there to help solve problems and make users' life easier.
Focus on performance.
Your app has to be easy enough that users don’t need to flip through a manual to figure it out. You only get a few minutes to engage new potential users—and if they can’t get it to work within the commercial break during prime time, they’re gone (and will probably warn their friends about your complicated app).
Same with speed. If your app is too heavy, no one will use it. If it tries to do everything on one screen, no one will use it. If the screen alone doesn’t load well, no one will use it. Why? Because users are impatient and do not want to waste time.
Sure, stunning visuals attract potential users, but if you want a long-lasting relationship, then your best bet is to boost the experience every single time. And that, my friend, largely depends on how your app performs.
Test, test, and test.
There’s a bunch of criteria that have to be met for a mobile app to be successful. Below is an infographic that enumerates some of the important ones—from UI and UX design, down to compatibility and conformance testing. Deal with these, and you might just eliminate heaps and heaps of difficulties.
And since mobile apps are limited to a small screen and can’t exactly require users to type in heaps of text, the design has to stay simple, clean yet functional.
Now if you’re keen to get it right, be sure to test, test, and test multiple versions of your app with users before deciding on one that will work as you envision it—and therefore help your users meet their goals.
You know how we're almost always quick to picture Hogwarts at the mention of Harry Potter? Or how we instantly associate Middle Earth with Lord of the Rings? Or how we see Westeros in our minds whenever someone talks about Game of Thrones? Apart from a ridiculous amount of imagination, these worlds are so successful because of consistency.
We know these fantasy worlds by heart because they've been meticulously crafted, and the details are flat-out consistent—I mean, even the Harry Potter font is instantly distinguishable, yes? The same principle applies here: your apps should be recognizable as apps from your company. They should be consistent not just by look but by function, as well, on all devices.
Which task do you want user-friendly apps to prioritize?
See, most apps fail. And this sad reality has led many developers to conclude that to succeed with your mobile app, you just need to get lucky. While some believe in that, others just work on the things that have to come together: your idea has to be original; your design, tight; and the overall experience, simple yet powerful.
So you've developed an app to help solve problems in stupidly simple ways. Now how do you feel about making more lives easier? With these user-friendly app development tips, I say: back to the drawing board!