Mobile Product Design & Development Guide
Building a mobile app, like any investment in your business, should be carefully considered. Considering that this app will represent your company in the ever-crowded mobile application universe, you need to make sure that it delivers the kind of “pop” that will help it differentiate you from the competition – not just other companies that do what you do, but also the millions of other apps clamoring for space on smart phones.
One way to stack the deck in your favor is to understand the importance of UX in differentiating a good app from a bad app. At the top of your list of specifications, when going through the process of mobile product design and development, should be a keen focus on solid UX. We hope that this article will serve as a guide for you, helping you to better understand this correlation and how you can develop mobile apps for success!
What is Product Design and Development?
Here’s a scary thought – a recent study found that about 20 percent of mobile phone users deleted an app because they found the icon to be ugly. The companies behind those apps – developed with care and with the best of intentions – didn’t even get an at-bat. What can we extract from this statistic? Hopefully, how key digital product design and development is to mobile app success. For those for whom digital is a new frontier, you can liken this process to the one that consumer product companies undertake in new product development (NPD) -- the process of bring a new product to the market. Whether tangible or intangible, an essential to this approach is to gain a greater understanding of the target user’s wants and needs, in order to provide an application that is easily delivered to these users. Ideally, business should be mindful at the main variables that drive the user’s needs, which are the following:
How to Design a Mobile App Around Users’ Needs?
According to Medium.com, there are three essentials to follow during the UX design phase to ensure your product development process meets the consumer’s needs. They are:
1. Knowing Your Competition and Audience
Identifying your target audience will help you better understand the unique factors that separate them from the rest of the competition. As a side benefit, this will also help your product or service stand out even more for the target audience.
2. Formulating a Perfect UX Design
Excellence in UX design will deliver an experience that empowers the user – making them feel as if they intuitively know where everything is at, where to click, what actions to perform, and how to navigate to a specific place. The second the user is bewildered by a function within the app, or cannot find what they’re looking for, they’re gone.
Here are some tips according to Smashingmagazine.com that can protect you from bouncing users:
Find the balance for what is just the right amount of information. Your job is to inform without overwhelming your users. Routinely purge anything in the app that isn’t necessary to get across the message. Ensure you have a more approachable experience (a best-practice approach can be seen in the pictured examples).
- Break Tasks into Smaller Sections
Though a cousin to decluttering, this addresses the job of making the workflow super simple for the user – particularly when acquiring information. With regard to eCommerce mobile apps, we can look at the step-by-step checkout flow as an example. To avoid complexity, most checkout flows are divided into small sections. The attached image offers a great example of this).
- Use Familiar Screens as Templates
Familiarity, unlike what the saying suggests, does NOT breed contempt. In the world of mobile app development, it’s helpful to use time-tested screens, as this helps users call upon their prior experiences with other apps to quickly adapt to your design. (This example, from Theblog.adobe.com, demonstrates this well.
- Minimize User Input
The fewer the inputs, the better. Help keep users on track by limiting their need to input, and input again, information that is either duplicative or extraneous. Here are few tips to keep in mind:
- Keep forms as minimal as possible.
- Offer field masking. This helps users with formats, as it is automatically populated in the field as information is being filled out.
- Use autocomplete features. Tools like Place Autocomplete Address Form allow users to input fewer keystrokes when entering their address.
- Dynamically validate field values as users are inputting information. This allows users to identify any errors in their entries, instead of going back and correcting mistakes after completing the form.
- Anticipate Users’ Needs
The app should highlight areas where the user may need assistance in understanding what information is needed, or where to acquire that information.
3. Creating UI Design Tailored to Users
Not only should your app be well organized, but it should present an experience that is both pleasing and satisfying. Though this is a harder standard to quantify, when done correctly, it will hook the user early, and keep them coming back. A pleasing a user-centric design includes:
- Focus on The Primary Navigation Options
Prioritize your navigation paths based on how often users interact with your app. Rate these paths with different levels, ranging from high, medium, or low, based on how frequent users follow those paths. Focus on UI design for those that are rated high, making certain to organize the structure of the app in a way that requires minimal effort for the users.
- Provide a Consistent Navigation Pattern
Offer a consistent navigation pattern, in which the UI design does not dramatically change as the user transitions from one area to another.
- Use Standard Navigations
Utilize standardized navigation controls (think of the tab bar for iOS or the navigation drawer for Android as good examples). This will allow users to conquer the learning curve as they intuitively navigate through the app.
- Include Animation for Navigation Transitions
Note that animation is a great way to indicate to users that they are transitioning to different pages while performing complex tasks.
- Avoid Asking for Information for Account Setup on The Initial Experience
Explain that this can cause an increase in app abandonment. Most users expect for the app to work right after being downloaded. Allow new users to experience the app first then request permission only when it’s necessary to allow full access of the app.
Mobile product design represents a make-or-break proposition in the crowded app landscape. If you are not doing what you can to optimize your mobile app UX, perhaps its time for a change. Learn more about our nearshore services and let us know if we can be helpful in bringing that to life.