There’s a lot of mobile user angst out there with mobile apps. If you don’t know definitively that you are NOT driving your mobile users crazy with the user experience (UX) on yours, you probably are.
Being a mobile pain is nothing to beat yourself up about. The mobile landscape is constantly changing as are the needs of its users. However, here are seven tips to keep your mobile users pleased and coming back for more.
- Less is always more. The point of a mobile app is for a laser-fine, focused purpose. Your mobile app should be about a single tasks or benefit. It’s not supposed to communicate everything about your company (in fact, if it’s about you, then by definition it’s not about your user). Remember, your app should provide a service. If you can’t say in one sentence what your app does, it should probably be a mobile site instead.
- It’s OK to be old. Ever have a smartphone that gets a little long in the tooth way before its time? Too often this is done by developers creating for the cutting- edge phones. Users who have a phone that’s a generation or (gasp) two generations old, end up using apps that their hardware isn’t built to run. It’s OK to be current, but not at the cost of alienating a large percentage of your users. So, be leading edge without being bleeding edge and more people will enjoy what you have to offer.
- Be tutorial-free. Say what you want about Apple and the iPhone — and many hardcore mobile critics have — but every device they create is painfully intuitive. Ask someone if they read the user’s manual for their iPhone and they’ll give you that blank, confused look toddlers give you when you play “I’ve got your nose.” You don’t need a user’s manual because the user interface is that simple. Make that simplicity the goal for your user experience. If you think you’ll need a tutorial to guide your users through your mobile offering, you’ve got a problem.
- Be welcoming. Requiring user to log on using their Facebook account is cumbersome, obtrusive, and inhospitable. Not to mention there is a growing amount of users who have dropped their Facebook account. There are younger users who have never created one; they live on Instagram or Twitter (Yes, you are now allowed to feel very old).
- Is this really necessary? Before you create a native app, ask this vital question. Why are you creating this app? If it’s any version of, “We need to stay current to the mobile trends,” run, don’t walk, away from the project. Creating a web app for the sake of having one can do more harm than good. Native apps are very popular, but they are also very expensive. Look at your goals. If they are achievable with a mobile site, do that instead.
- Desktop experts aren’t mobile experts. Building an interface for touches and swipes is dramatically different from building for clicks. It’s like the difference between shooting a bullet and throwing it. Don’t make the common mistake of transferring your desktop UX to mobile. You’ll have users scratching their heads and dropping your app faster than you can keep track.
- Make it quick. Users download apps for speed. They expect your app to work as fast or faster than your mobile website. This audience wants to get things done quickly. They’re in line at the grocery store or waiting for the elevator. Every second is vital. That need for speed means your app should be responsive. Make them wait too long and they will disengage, forget they have the app on their phone and never come back.
The long track to mobile success is also twisty and narrow. Give it your time, discipline and patience to get it right. When you surprise and delight your user, they will let you into their mobile world, and you will become a vital part of their lives. And that makes all the time, discipline and patience worth it — and then some.