Building a Mobile Application UX That Hooks Users!

UX matters. No arguments there. Mobile UX (user experience) matters even more – firstly, because the bounce rate of mobile app users is as high as a humming bird hovering over a flower; secondly, because the first interaction leaves a permanent impression; and thirdly, because mobile is the most powerful medium that businesses absolutely must get right to maximize user engagement, brand equity, and revenue.

It’s not hard to believe that the app abandonment rate on mobile is 70 percent. This is the number of times users download an app, use it and delete it (probably with a mental note to never bother with another app from the same company or publisher). I’ve had my share of bad user experiences and they’re enduring in their after taste. Bad UX makes you question the quality of the company launching the app – even if it may be misguided. Therefore, it is vital to get the mobile app UX right from the very start.

Study the Audience

The first step is to understand the audience. This means moving out of four-walled closures and actually “observing” how users interact with applications, the devices they use, content organization they’re familiar and hence more comfortable with, and also the demographics of the audience. For example, an app designed for seniors will look different from one designed for teens. For generic apps though, such as a pizza ordering dashboard, the app may lean towards oversimplification to accommodate all age groups.

The initial phase of the app design process is also when various senior executives and CXOs pitch in with suggestions that range from sensible to bizarre. It is the mobile app designer’s job to keep the design logical yet innovative. If the company’s boss thinks all the latest design gizmos will make a phenomenal app, you will need to convince him that this may not work for the audience and may even drag performance which is suicidal to the app’s success.

A good strategy to study audiences is to conduct online or paper surveys before and during the design phase (which can take five or more iterations). Surveys reveal valuable data for closing the gap between user expectations and reality.

Design Process – Repeat till Perfect

The design phase is most crucial to an app’s success on iOS, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone or whatever platform you’re targeting. Sending out a half-baked app to your audience is about as damaging as it can get, what with social media spreading customer backlash like wild fire.

It’s important for CXOs to understand and support the fact that the design process includes multiple iterative steps that hone the application in each cycle – it takes time. Visual designers (who must be part of the process from the start) use software, paper mock-ups, prototypes and more for users to observe and make suggestions. You also need to validate design decisions to ensure the app design continues to sync with user expectations.

Visual Appeal – The First Look

Visual designers validate the feasibility of design suggestions. They capture the flow of interactions and screens to ensure that the final app flow is seamless. They also ensure that the look of the app is attractive and aligns with the organization’s branding theme. First impressions are as important as always.

Leverage Mobile Analytics

Mobile analytics help businesses to collect data on users and measure their engagement levels. Usage patterns provide helpful tips on the features and design changes that can be made part of the app’s next update for better UX and value.

To reiterate, mobile UX matters. There’s no shortcut to getting it right so prepare to spend time and effort on the exercise if you don’t want your app figuring in the 70 percent.

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