How to Ensure A Great UX Design?

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As of the first quarter of 2020, the App Store and Google Play have over 4 million apps combined. Product managers are working and competing hard to stand out in the crowd and maintain a successful mobile app experience. They should be doing so when we consider that almost 1 of every 4 users doesn’t come back to an app after their first use. This competition pushes product managers to create a better user experience to keep users happy and engaged with their mobile apps. 

User experience (UX) spans every aspect of the user’s interaction with your app from beginning to end. So, it includes usability, credibility, value, usefulness, etc. Simply, the goal of good user experience would be helping users do what they want to or need to do when they are interacting with your app. In this blog post, we’ll be focusing on the design side of user experience and sharing some macro design tips on how to ensure a good UX design.

Focus on Your Users Need

This goes without saying. Focusing on your users’ needs could be the most critical aspect in UX design. Contrary to its association with a good UX design, some user needs aren’t always easy to discover. The discovery phase requires you to build user personas to understand how your users will interact with your app, and predict what they want and need. 

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Image: Smashing Magazine, It may not be easy for users to find barcode information, so the app anticipates that need and provides users with help.

Design Based on Data

Data is useful in every area of your mobile app. UX design is no  exception. Strongly related to understanding your users’ needs, data collected from users, other businesses, your competitors, market buzz, and your own analytics will help you improve the UX of your app. Data is a great source to understand what is working for your app and what is not. 

Onboarding

Although the onboarding process doesn’t end throughout the user’s journey on your app, it is important to keep in mind that onboarding gives the first impression to your users, and first impressions last. Complex and long onboarding sessions cause users to slip away. Introducing the functions of your app and how the user will get value out of them without distorting the user experience is important. So, a good user experience design should comprise a good onboarding process. You can learn more about how you can get inspired on onboarding here.

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Image: Storyly, An app using in-app stories to ease onboarding

Avoid Cognitive Overload

Cognitive load refers to the total amount of information your working memory can handle. It is basically a reference to how much brain power needed to use your app. The cognitive load comes from first, the complexity of the informationSecondly, it comes from how that information is presented and what the learner is required to do to learn that information. Since your app is adding value to your users, it is good to have some level of complexity, hence cognitive load. But, this information shouldn’t be presented in an environment with a lot of distractions or where your users should dig in to reach information.  

Reducing the cognitive load and avoiding the overload of your users and helping them navigate your app without frustration and distractions is critical for user experience design.

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Image: UX Movement, Confusing interfaces are one of the biggest reasons for cognitive overload.

Design for Mental Models

A mental model is what the user believes about the system at hand. It means that users come to your app by thinking they know how to use and navigate your app. To ensure a good UX design, you should design according to the mental models of the users. 

Because designers know more than users, they may consider the app easy to understand and navigate. However, users’ mental models are less advanced than designers. Hence, a design created without thinking users’ mental models may result in confused users who keep touching wrong buttons, looking for features in the wrong places, etc.  

Recognizing and designing for mental models improve user experience. If you see your users making frequent mistakes and having problems with navigating your app, you should either reevaluate your app onboarding or make design changes accordingly.

Image: Toptal, Facebook Messenger, and Snapchat, responding to users’ mental models by mirroring existing interfaces.

Design Familiar Gestures

Designing familiar, traditional, or established gestures is very related to corresponding users’ mental models. For example, a magnifying glass has always been used to imply “search, find, discover, etc.” commands.  Using this same icon for other purposes as well as using another icon for search purposes would confuse users and result in negative user experience. 

Image: Medium, One of the earliest if not most examples of magnifying glass icon used as “find” button icon. NeXT Workspace Manager, designed by Keith Ohlfs in 1987.

Keep Navigation Simple

If users think that your app is beautifully designed but can’t navigate it, then they would just delete your app. A good UX allows users to navigate the app easily without confusion. That also includes reducing complexity when it comes to buttons and content.  

You should prioritize the navigation based on the functions your users need, want, or use most and label them clearly. Also, keeping navigation levels at minimum improves the user experience. 

Plus, consistency helps your users learn how to navigate your app, but that doesn’t mean every page should be exactly the same as each other.

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Image: Smashing Magazine, prioritizing the navigation

Watch the Layout

Size of the buttons, amount of padding and placement of clickable areas should be carefully designed to create a positive user experience. People can use their thumbs or index fingers to touch their screens, hold their phones with one or two hands, might have small or big fingers. 

To ensure a good UX design, you should mind the “thumb zone”, the most comfortable area for touch with one-handed use. 

The size of our fingerpads and fingertips are, on average, between 10-14mm and 10mm x 10mm, hence Apple recommends to create controls that measure at least 44 points x 44 points so that these controls can accurately be tapped.

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Image: LukeW, Thumbzone

Design Battery Friendly

In 2018, Google revealed information on how mobile phones spend battery life. To blame were screen brightness and color. Google admitted that they made a mistake by encouraging designers to use white as the primary color for apps and interfaces. So, using darker colors will save your users’ battery and improve their experience on your app.

Background services such as GPS also drain the battery, so make sure that you allow your users to change their preferences smoothly.

Image: Muzli

Ask for Feedback Smoothly

How will you know whether your users are having a good or bad experience on your app? Asking them directly might sound intimidating but by asking with a good UX design and content, you can reach valuable insights. Check out how you can ask for feedback without disrupting your user’s mobile experience here

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Image: Apptentive, While you are asking for feedback, keep it short and allow users to add their opinions

Try Iterative Design

Iterative design is one of the best techniques to improve user experience. Creating the perfect mobile app design in a single attempt is almost impossible, so you should keep testing and discover what works best for your users. 

Follow the Trends

The mobile world is evolving. New technologies are emerging and companies are adopting these new technologies. Your app should track the market and adopt new features to ensure a good user experience by balancing familiarity and creativity. One of the useful trends to improve user experience and in-app engagement is stories. For example, Instagram adopted the Snapchat stories feature in 2016. Imagine an Instagram without stories, or Instagram stories without AR filters. If you want to discover how you can improve your user experience design by using the power of stories, check Storyly out. 

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Image: Stories, WhatsApp Status, FB Stories,

Last Words

Following these tips to ensure a good UX design will help you build better user experience for your users in general. Users’ attention span shortens, so the bar for good UX design raises. Product managers need to work hard to meet the expectations of users and make their apps useful and valuable to the users.

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