Pleasing color combinations, consistent themes, and well-crafted graphics can win a customer’s heart. However, the goal of designing for the customer experience is to win the customer’s subconscious. Creating an app that innately feels comfortable and enjoyable to the customer needs to go beyond the visual experience, and doing so will help drive customers to return and use the app again.
Designing a great app experience encourages customers to spend more time in the app and is something that requires a developer’s full attention. The needs of a customer can be different inside a banking app than a game or utility app. For every app there are a few tips that developers should employ to create a good app experience.
1. Optimize For The Mobile Device
You would think this would be obvious for anybody building a mobile app, but there are still so many apps that neglect this. The first mistake that I often see is putting too much on a page. The myFavorites app makes it really hard to use the features of the app with this design:
The myFavorites app has way too many options around organizing your favorites from your address book. Having too many buttons close together can lead to a lot mis-taps. This can often frustrate customers and result with the app being deleted. There are great ways to use minimal designs to showcase your app, but there are definitely minimalistic approaches that feel empty and plain. For example, the new popular car transport system Car2Go app:
This is the first page you seen when opening the Car2Go app. The login screen feels blank, almost like an afterthought. Half of the page is empty. Spending only thirty minutes to enlarge the input fields and the “login” button would drastically improve the customer experience, making it easier to read and better utilizing the space provided. A login page like this gives the feeling that the developers were not focused on making the best possible app and that type of feeling is something that shouldn’t be conveyed to the people using the app.
Little things can make a huge difference in crafting a good experience. For example, if you are asking for a phone number, or other number oriented data, the input field should open up the dial interface instead of the messaging interface. I notice every time a developer takes the time to do this.
Walk through every page of your app considering the layout combined with the ease of interaction. It is fine to have a page filled with buttons as long as they are all easy to click, and don’t clutter the screen. If it is a simple page, take advantage of the entire space. See how “the font game”, a game for testing your font identifying skills, designed their home page:
2. Sign Up Forms
Do not ask a customer to login or create an account immediately when they open the app for the first time. You get one chance to make an impression with your mobile app, and asking people to fill out a form before they experience what the app has to offer will drive people away. In one large scale app 75% of people did not complete the sign up form. After all the work to drive a download, you shouldn’t lose potential customers due to a sign up form. Instead, allow them experience the content of your app and how it works.
It is fine to want people to have an account or be logged in before having access to certain features of the app. However, let people navigate through the app and experience what they would be getting before introducing a forced registration form. Allowing everybody to experience your app before being pressed to login will result in a higher retention rate as people are already hooked by the content in your app.
Everything that your app has to offer should be accessible with two taps to the screen.. No one enjoys hitting the back button over and over again to navigate through an app, nor do we enjoy having to click through multiple pages to arrive at a specific page whose function has nothing to do with the previous pages.
A great simple way to improve the accessibility of an app is to have a button that can open up a toolbar for all the functions of the app. A great example of this is Urbanspoon’s mobile app:
Using this feature allows people to quickly move from between different places in the app, and doesn’t impede on the design of the main page. Being mobile is all about being fast. It is important to be able to move through and access all the functions of an app with only one or two taps from wherever you are.
4. Customer’s Voice –
As apps are always being updated and changed it is important for app developers to connect with the people using their app. The experience for a customer can be very deeply impacted by valuing the customer. The worst thing that can happen is when a customer doesn’t feel valued.
This can easily happen when there is no easy way for the customer to communicate with somebody from the app. Building a place where a customer can give feedback and be listened to inside the app is essential to creating a good customer experience. Having an outlet where customers can interact with the developers will build trust and loyalty between the customer and the app. A great design example can be found in the sitter app, Tonightish
A simple elegant design that highlights the core functions of the app: getting a sitter for a particular night. Under the “+” tab equal with all the other functions of the app is the ability to connect directly to the developers through the support button. This makes it clear that communication is valued by the developers of the app and encourages customers to use the support function as much as any other feature on the page.
From the first page and onwards, mobile apps need to be designed with the customer experience in mind. Designing for the customer is about making the app clear and simple to use while highlighting the functionalities of the app that make it useful. Following these four tips will improve the app experience. Your customers will appreciate your app due to the time you took to implement features that make them feel valued.
There are other ways to improve the customer experience and I would love to see other design tips or examples that improve the customer experience. Please don’t hesitate to post in the comments.
Want more tips?
Ezra Siegel is Apptentive’s VP of Community. Apptentive provides in-app feedback tools for app developers to improve ratings and user experience. He can be found writing on topics ranging from customer service to mobile apps, and most often where the two meet. You can read more along those lines at Apptentive’s blog, and keep up with Ezra and Apptentive on Facebook and Twitter.