Best Practices to Improve Your App Experience

Successful enterprise mobile apps have one thing in common, great user experience design. This involves every aspect of how a user perceives and interacts with your app. While an app can be fast, responsive and offer a valuable experience, if it doesn’t make the task at hand easy, it can fall flat on its face. 

When it comes to developing an app, whatever it is for, it should have one core focus; the user. Without a full understanding of the target users’ behaviour patterns or ways of thinking, there is no way to exceed or ,indeed, even meet expectations. To improve the app user experience, your app should address real user pain points and create practical solutions. 

Ways to Improve User Experience

If your app doesn’t deliver the expectation that your users expect, then chances are they’ll stop using it. User experience encompasses the emotion, intuition and connection that a user feels when using your app. So, it’s vital to not only meet their expectation but to try to exceed their expectations if you want to keep them coming back for more. To improve user experience, consider the following best practices: 

1. Deliver Error-Free Functionality

The first step in achieving great user experience is ensuring there are no errors. However well thought through an app is, if it crashes at any point, it will have a serious effect on user experience. No doubt you’ve experienced the frustration of it happening to you mid-task; it certainly doesn’t promote user retention. Once you’ve made an app error-free, you are able to focus on the more important elements of user experience that can take an app from being good to being great.

2. Help Your Users Get Onboard

While you’ll want to make your app as intuitive as possible, you may need to give users a steer in the right direction. Onboarding is the process of introducing your app and guiding your users through the initial stages. This may include tasks like setting their preferences or tutorials around how the app works. When done right, onboarding shows the value of your app and demonstrates how users can quickly and efficiently achieve their goals. If, on the other hand, users struggle within the first few screens, they’re much more likely to give up. This makes onboarding second to error-free functionality in keeping hold of your users. 

3. Simplify the Login Process

As well as helping your users to quickly learn how to use your app, you want to make sure they can log in quickly. Making the process too cumbersome will act as a huge blocker to its use. Consider how much information you actually need, don’t ask for their phone number for example if it’s not required. Consider whether they’ll be able to seamlessly login in from other accounts like Facebook and Google, think about using their email address as their username and give them the option to stay logged in to facilitate frequent use.

4. Make Navigation Obvious

It’s important to make it obvious to your users how to move around your app. That means having a simple navigation bar that leads users to the most important pages. If you confuse users with over-complicated menus, you’ll restrict the accessibility of your app. You also want it to be evident what each button does by how it looks. Following commonly used design patterns can help to reduce the learning curve and make the whole experience far more intuitive. Make sure to review platform-specific standards and guidelines too, so you consider your different user groups.

5. Get to the Point

On mobile devices, you are working with smaller screens and a smaller space on which to display information. This makes it vital to be concise and get straight to the point. Instead of trying to cram everything onto the first screen, present only the most essential information. As long as you’ve considered your onboarding and navigation, your users will easily be able to find the other features and details within your app. Give your users a chance to explore; while you need to make it simple, they will also benefit from the interactivity of self-initiated discovery. 

6. Reduce Search Effort

You want to help your users quickly find what they need at all times. Having a well-designed search functionality is a big part of that. Ensure that your search option provides filters to help guide them to exactly what they’re looking for. An important part of this is ensuring that a search doesn’t land on zero results. You can always offer related results so that they never hit a dead end. And, remember that there are other ways to help users find the answers they’re looking for, consider FAQs and live chat functionality. 

7. Minimise User Input

At some point in every app, users will be required to input their information. However, it’s easy for users to get frustrated with the smaller screen size, which makes minimising the amount of input needed a considerable benefit. This is especially important when it comes to the checkout process as it can elongate the path-to-purchase and impact conversion rates. Make sure any fields you include are necessary, integrate auto-complete, and use spell-check and predictive text functionality. 

8. Be Upfront

If you ask your users for a whole load of permissions before they use your app, it can put them off. There is no need to ask for their credit card details or photo gallery access straight away, for example, unless entirely necessary. If you ask for too much, it can affect how your users will feel and directly impact brand loyalty. However, you should ensure you’re upfront about any information you do ask for and how it will be used. Your users should feel in control of their personal data. Make sure you include links to your privacy regulations and include trusted badges of security to give them confidence in sharing their details. 

9. Make it Personal

Personalisation can go a long way towards making your app feel unique and relevant to the user. Leverage user data wherever possible to deliver relevant content. This could be using their location to display local content, for example. You can also take it a step further by using the user’s name on the screen and in messages. One to watch out for, however, is using too many push notifications. You only want to alert the user if something is highly relevant to them and their individual needs. 

Could Your App Experience Be Better?

When it comes to user experience, you can always make improvements to your app. That is why user experience is so important, not just during app development, but throughout the lifetime of your app. However, by starting in the right place, and focusing on the usability of your app and the effectiveness of the design, you’ll be off to a flying start. 

To summarise, here are nine best practices to help you improve your user experience:

  • Ensure there are no errors – if your app crashes mid-task, your users are going to get seriously frustrated. Making your app error-free is vital.
  • Work on onboarding – introducing your app and guiding users through the initial stages makes it easier for them to achieve their goals. 
  • Facilitate the login process – ask for as little information as possible, link to other commonly used accounts, and give them the option to stay logged in. 
  • Simplify navigation – lead users to the most important pages with clear menus and follow commonly used design patterns to reduce the learning curve. 
  • Be concise – you have less space on mobile to display information, so it’s essential to get to the point and display the most important information clearly and concisely.
  • Make search more effective – help your users find what they’re looking for with search functionality that always delivers beneficial results. 
  • Reduce user input – never ask users to input unnecessary information, and, for the information you do need, use autocomplete and predictive text functionality. 
  • Build trust – you should always be upfront about the information that you ask for, include links to your privacy regulations and ensure user data is secure. 
  • Include personalisation – leverage user data to make your app feel more relevant; this means displaying highly relevant and localised content. 
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About the author

Michael Ridland is the Co-CEO and Founder of Xam Consulting.

Design-led problem solving delivering digital solutions.

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