A UX designer’s insight into improving user engagement10 min read - Design
At some point or another, we’ve all deleted an app less than a minute after downloading it. Frustrated by the difficult to use features, or the slow disjointed interface one in five of us have abandoned an app after just one use.¹
Across all industries consumers have come to expect more from their interactions with apps. From the UX and UI design to the feedback system. Consumers have come to expect a first-class experience whenever and wherever they interact with an app. And if a company can’t meet consumers’ expectations, then users will move to a competitor that can.
To better understand how consumer expectations are changing and what we can do about it. We sat down with our Senior Designer Sarah, to understand how we at Sonin design to meet the needs and expectations of users.
How are user expectations changing?
“They’re constantly changing, ever increasing. People are using apps for absolutely everything nowadays. People are using app for everything, from looking at their electricity. To trying to book a taxi or seeing where that taxi is, or even their public transport like a bus or a tube. With that it means that, because their using apps all the time their wanting to get things faster. Their expecting them to do more, and they’re expecting them do it really really quickly and easily and understand instantly what they’re trying to achieve.”
A new kind of competition
This has changed the way in which apps measure themselves against the competition, no longer can an app just compare itself to other apps within its own industry. Because consumers turn to their smartphones and tablets for everything. From directions and messaging to banking and shopping. The experiences consumers are having on these seemingly unconnected apps are being compared and contrasted against each other.
This means that a user who can purchase items in two taps within retail apps holds a taxi apps to the same standard of speed and convenience.
Mathew Heath, chairman of M&C Saatchi’s Marketing agency LIDA expands on this “Your online checkout may be the best in your category but is it as good as Amazon’s? Your app interface may beat your rivals, but does it stack up against Uber. We’re living in the ‘age of experience’, whereby consumers are happy to buy from an unknown brand if they are offered a better service.” ²
What drives users away from an app?
“Bad performance is probably one of the main reasons anyone leaves an app. That can be anything from slow processing, so taking a long time to load, to just bad design and not understanding it. The other reasons could be if they realise there are dark patterns in there. That could be a simple as a newsletter sign up, if that wording is just using a dark pattern that’s another turn off. Anything where they can get confused, so user feedback in this situation is really important. If we’re not telling the user that they’ve clicked that button and we’ve registered it, and its successful, then they’re going to get confused. They’re going to not know what’s going on and that in the end, will stop them from using the app.”
Dark patterns, and other tools used by apps and websites to get users to buy or sign up to things without them realising, do not represent best practice. And are completely against the ‘Slippy UX’ principal. Given the available alternatives that can achieve the same outcome, we would recommend avoiding this user friction point.
Damaging user engagement: User friction, MVP’s and Sticky experiences
Once a user has left an app it can be very difficult to entice them back. With an average of 6,140 new apps on Play3 and 1,434 released on iOS per day4. Just having an app is not enough. With a range of factors able to cause bad performances, understanding the most common causes is critical in avoiding it happening. As there is no margin for error available for apps looking to grab attention and build user engagement.
Reducing user friction, whether induced or not, is essential in preventing poor app performances and user frustration. User friction moves your users further away from converting. The more steps there are, and the more hoops users need to jump through in order to accomplish something, the more likely they are to simply walk away.
The most successful digital experiences today, have emerged out of focusing on reducing friction in the user journey. Which is why we recommend for public releases, going beyond the minimum that’s viable.
The Minimum Viable Product (MVP) can be a useful approach to take for proof of concepts. As the idea behind MVP development is to get your products to market as soon as possible, meeting the baseline requirements only.
But users today don’t want their baseline needs met, they want to be amazed from the very first time they open your app. Because if your app doesn’t delight users, 77% of your users will leave within three days of installing it.5 With such a small window of opportunity, you may never get another chance at impressing users.
In order to rush an app through development some apps may become more similar to smaller versions of websites than independent apps. The experience of using these apps are often frustrating because websites favour ‘sticky experiences’, which prioritise keeping users on a web page for as long as possible.
App users are however, very different from web users. Mobile app users are usually much more task-oriented. Because when we download an app, we’re often looking to achieve something specific. Whether it’s checking our bank balance, sending a message, or catching up with our friends and family.
‘Slippy experiences’ the secret to a great UX
‘Slippy experiences’, on the other hand favour app users. They enable users to do more with less, in shorter journeys. And all thanks to intuitive user interfaces and seamless UX. Slippy UX solves may of the problems associated with the ‘sticky experience’ by taking a more user-centric approach. With app users typically task-orientated, helping users do more and faster gives users a more valuable experience.
How do we work with clients to improve user engagement.
“So with that we look at doing a discovery phase. This is possibly one of the most important phases in a development cycle. That involves doing a work shop with the users, where we discuss their pain points, what they actually want from the app. We then take this into a client workshop where we not only discuss the feedback we’ve got from the users workshop. But we discuss what their goals are, and what they want so that we can hit their business goals. This then means that we can maximise their return on investment and make an enjoyable experience for the end user. The other part of that is then, once we’ve got a solution we would take it back to the users show them the solution. Get them to work through it, watching their micro expressions. Their stalling points gives us the idea of where their struggling, where we need to tweak the process, where we need to tweak the UI. Which shows us what the best option is. “
What can we do to help
Building an app that meets user expectations, whilst fulfilling the goals of your business is challenging. We know there’s a lot to consider, whether you’re an enterprise or a start up looking to grow, the prospect can seem daunting.
In order to make the process as seamless as possible, we prove the need for your app before we begin. We’ll research your industry and your competitors and apply our experience and technical expertise to advise you on the best solution. Through thorough research, we reduce the risks of user friction, user confusion and app abandonment and create a better end product.
The discovery phase not only helps us define your concept but also provides an opportunity to gather user’s feedback early on. This shows you exactly what your users want from your app.
Our UI and UX design is research-led. Every component can be traced back to the business goals that we set during the discovery phase. The UX process begins with producing a set of user flows, which map the entire journey through the app. The flows show each screen and decision point the user will face. This highlights any potential roadblocks or issues the user might encounter whilst using your app, allowing us to put measures in place to ensure a smooth journey and reduce user friction.
Every app we build is thoroughly tested and then amended based on you and your users’ feedback. This makes sure that the user experience and interface are both easy-to-use. And that the app enhances your brand image and keeps users coming back.
For more information about any of the topics raised in this article or for an in depth discussion with Sarah about your app, please get in touch.