“If you think good design is expensive, you should look at the cost of bad design.”
Dr Ralf Speth- CEO of Jaguar
A good User Experience (UX) is vital towards the success of any mobile app and we cannot stress this enough. The UX should be at the top, centre and bottom of any mobile app development as those who use it should have an experience unlike any other to continue using it. Any experience less than stellar can have your hard earned users getting frustrated, closing your app and uninstalling it. You might even get a negative review on the App Store or Play Store if the said customer is in a particularly bad mood.
A good mobile app UX should have the end user being able to navigate inside your product in an intuitive manner, without much hesitation or instructions. This sense of mastery over the app in the first interactions is an experience many designers should aspire to provide as failure to do so can have the user feeling anxious and frustrated.
A bad UX is usually due to a combination of many reasons. Key amongst them are:
1. Lack of strategy in UX design – The UX of any mobile app should be created with the end user in mind. Such deliberate, user-centric UX design is only possible through research on the end users and their needs.
2. Client centric design – client feedback is important to the success of any app design. Such feedback, however, should not overpower common design principles recommended by the UX designers. It is a designers duty to push back against any counterproductive ideas from the clients and provide insight into why that is so.
3. Compromising on investing in design – creating great app UX designs take time and a sizable amount of investment. Cutbacks on these can have an impact on the design of your app and therefore its overall success.
4. Not conducting enough tests – design based on usability tests should and is fast becoming a norm due to their ability to get design feedback from the users themselves. Such exhaustive tests give power to the user and give the designer more insight into the expectations of their app design.
It is to guide the design thinking process that UX designers follow Nielsen’s Usability Heuristics. Key amongst them are:
1. Keeping the user updated – Every action should be correlated with an appropriate response. Users should be always informed about the current state on the screen, whether it be loading or experiencing connection difficulties. Such information about the status prevents frustration born out of waiting and guesswork.
2. Matching the app to set standards – Matching your app design to the standards the end user is familiar with and expects is important to how intuitive the app feels. The app designers should, therefore, pay a sizable amount of attention to ensuring users are able to navigate their way around the app with ease and accomplish their end goals in as little interactions as possible.
3. Aesthetic and minimalist design – User-centred app designs as you might have noticed from your use of the most famous apps today do not need to be complicated. It can, in fact, be very simplistic and help the end user achieve their goals speedily.
4. Giving the user control over the app – A good app UX is when the user has mastery over his actions within the app and has the ability to either interact or undo the said interaction. Such freedom to undo and/or redo gives control to the user and can go a long way towards the overall UX one experiences.
5. Cutting out the jargon – Not every user is a software development engineer, which is why the language used inside errors, popups and larger group of texts should not be jargon. Remember, real-world users, react well to real-world interactions and natural language.
How to avoid the pitfalls of a bad UX?
Mobile app users today are spoilt for choice and will have no hesitation in moving towards your competitors whose app design is better than yours. This lack of loyalty will translate into a bad reputation that will impede the rebranding/remake of the app that led to the issue in the first place and taint the success of any future product. One must, therefore,
1. Know that bad UX designs do exist – Designers should always work with user expectations in mind and prioritize their basic needs. We at Mood Up like to conduct usability tests with a sample of the end users to ensure what we discovered through our market and user research matches the actual expectations. The goal is to make user-driven iterative changes whose success we can measure.
2. Take inspiration from top players – Visually pleasing designs might compensate for the lack of a user-friendly UX flow. This, however, will not last long if you are creating a global app in a saturated app marketplace where your competitors are looking to out-design you at every turn. Take inspiration from the top players and apps that are seeing high popularity to get an understanding of what makes their UI and UX design so successful.
3. Hop onto the shoes of the end user – User-centric UX designs need user input and that’s why we recommend creating users personas and scenarios. Such user personas help designers to get insight on their end users, their needs and ask the right questions. Another little trick you might want to try is creating a minimum viable product (MVP) and letting a sample of end-users use it before asking questions on expectations and improvements.
4. Sketch – Constant constructive iterations are the key to making a great product, as even the biggest brands made those along the way. Get the user involved in the design process with user tests and solve problems together.
5. Test, test, test – Place an emphasis on usability tests with a certain group of users. This will provide you with fresh insight into improvements and issues you might have missed due to your familiarity with the design.
Creating great UX designs isn’t easy. It, however, isn’t also rocket science and can be mastered if the designers pay attention to their end users and practice due diligence with tests. Such test driven design should be a cornerstone of any app development project and one we at Mood Up place a core focus on in every project we work on.