Mobile App UX
Sam Cranwell
Sam Cranwell
23rd Dec 2020

Mobile App UX Do's and Don'ts

If your app’s UX doesn’t hit the bullseye, it’ll leave your customers feeling bored and uninspired. A MoEngage study found that users will typically uninstall an app within two weeks of its download. That’s a high price to pay, and can often be a result of poor UX. To help combat this problem, we’ve created a brief guide to get you started on your UX journey. By the end of this article, you’ll know the key do’s and don’ts to consider and the next move you should make to improve your own app’s UX.

Do focus on your user

The key to a successful app is putting the customer first. They should be at the heart of every UX decision to ensure their journey is seamless. It’s important you identify who they are, what their objectives are and what they need. If you haven’t completed a user persona exercise, then this would be the perfect time to do so. Once you know exactly who wants your app, you’ll be able to pinpoint how to make their experience individualised. Putting the customer first is vital to building trust and keeping them engaged, so they come back to your app over and over again.

Keep in mind it’s easy to get carried away with new functionality that makes you delighted, but remember that the app is aimed at your customer. Make sure you only use necessary functionality, such as elements that help conversions, email-signups or shares. Having an objective perspective can uncover valuable insights to your mobile app UX, so it may be worth reaching out to an app development agency, like Versantus, for help.

Do plan and research thoroughly

With your target audience in mind, this step should prove a lot easier. The planning and research stages are important to the overall process, as they’ll inform the key features and functionality that needs to be in place. Planning each part of the app and its components will give you a head start, not to mention less headaches once you’re mid-development.

Equally, research should inform this plan. It may be easy to brainstorm UX elements you want to feature in your app, but would these work for your target audience? Doing an in-depth analysis on what your competitors and market leaders are doing will give you the upper hand. You can take what works and repurpose it, and ditch what doesn’t work. If you’re not sure where to start with competitor analysis, Usability Geek have created a UX competitor analysis guide to walk you through the process. It even details common pitfalls you may encounter, so you can save yourself from unnecessary mistakes.

Do test your app

Without concrete data, you’ll never know whether your UX efforts have made a difference to your customer’s experience. There are multiple ways to test the effectiveness of your UX, such as hiring a focus group to provide feedback or getting them to complete tasks on your app. Their feedback on what likes, dislikes and difficulties they faced with your app will provide insight. Even small changes can have a big impact on your user. If you’re releasing your first app, leading with a beta version first could also prove a valuable strategy to gain customer-centric feedback.

Do keep your navigation simple

User experience is focused on journeys. If your app is difficult to navigate, your target audience may uninstall it. Your previous work on personas, planning and researching should inform how your navigation will best suit your users. As long as they expect what they find in the navigation, can easily navigate it and are provided with a logical path, your navigation will perform its function.

As part of the planning stage, thinking about your informational architecture i.e the design of how and where content is structured, will help create a clean navigation. Factors like how many levels a user will have to tap through to get to their designated page, AKA menu depth, are important too. If you have a lot of content, how are you going to display it to the user? If you’re asking them to work through three menu levels before getting to their desired page, do you think they’ll stick around or give up and go somewhere else?

Understanding what the most important pages are to your users will ensure they're faced with a menu that makes sense to them. The goal of your app’s navigation is to keep your user journeying through the site, so make it obvious and accessible.

Don’t forget about the basics

It can be easy to get carried away with complex features that provide something jaw-dropping. You could have all the latest features and technology integrated into your app, but if your users can’t tap a button because it’s too small, for example, they won’t bother waiting around.

Understanding the basics of UX goes a long way, especially with the rise of new technologies that everyone is trying to cram into their own space on the internet. However, if you stick to the basics and add bespoke functionality as you go, your users are much more likely to appreciate the more complex features. Remember that designing for mobile is different from designing for desktop. Areas like easily readable fonts and haptic feedback on interactions (taps, presses and swipes) can make a large difference to user experience. Unfortunately, the user won't notice anything out of the ordinary if these elements are implemented, but they won’t give you a second chance if those elements are absent.

Don’t settle for slow speeds

Before your app is released, it will need to go through performance tests. A slow app is a sure-fire way to lose attention, so make sure your app is as fast as it can be on all devices. There are various ways to speed up your app, but some depend on your budget and how far you’re willing to go. For example, native apps, e.g an Apple app for an iPhone, will perform a lot faster than a hybrid app, which can work on either an Apple or Android smartphone. Creating native apps would provide your user with faster load speeds and a better experience. If you can’t commit to that kind of investment, then potentially resizing images, using a CDN (Content Delivery Network) to distribute your content faster or reducing the amount of app features will improve your app’s speed. It’s always worth consulting an app development agency if you don’t have this expertise in-house. An experienced agency should review your current app, or its plans if it hasn’t been built yet, and make recommendations on where improvements can be made. Before taking a leap of faith, get the right expertise to guide you first.

Don’t add more than is necessary

With so many companies bidding for your user’s attention, focusing on the ‘less is more’ principle can go a long way. Bright colours, flashing gifs and emojis dotted every which way has been done, and it works for some industries. But what if you stripped your app design all the way back? Whilst this point lies closer to UI design, it also has an impact on user experience. Black and white designs have taken design back to basics, but with interesting results. A Justinmind study on black vs white in UI design found that users preferred black and white user interfaces (UI) to other colours in both work and personal settings. The contrast of black and white doesn’t appear striking, but makes information easier to gather and read, especially for visually-impaired users. This small consideration can have large impacts on UX, and it could be the difference between competing for attention, or standing out from the crowd.

Whichever colours and designs you choose, always think about how it’ll impact your end user. If it’s going to make text harder to read, or create a sense of suffocation (like the use of a black background, as mentioned in Justinmind’s study), it will have a direct impact on UX.

Don’t forget, it’s a process

You won’t get it right the first time. But once you’ve collected enough data to get into the granular details of what’s working and what isn’t, you’ll be making improvements that have a real impact. The more you test, trial and tweak, the more your user will enjoy their experience on your app, because slowly it will become more tailored to them.

The best way to achieve impressive app UX is to keep working at it. The industry changes often, and so do people’s expectations, so working with experienced individuals, whether that’s UX developers or a development agency, will keep your app evolving in the right direction.

The roundup

We always recommend consulting with an experienced in-house team or agency to ensure you’re heading in the right direction. UX is a vital part of digital growth and it’s been a passion of ours to help businesses get it right. Making sure your app’s UX is right for your business needs and for your users will put you on the right path to achieve your business goals. If you’re embarking on a mobile app project, or you’d like some guidance on where to start, give us a call or leave us a message, and our team will be in touch.

Related blog posts