October 15, 2018 6 UX Strategies for Building an App Users Will Love

Over a decade since the Apple App Store launched, the market may seem oversaturated. Apps are a part of almost every smartphone owner’s daily life. However, now that users have so many options and demand a great experience, there’s no room for an app to be clunky or fail to meet expectations. So how can you develop an app that users will love? First, it takes a good idea and a good use case. Then, it’s all about executing on UX strategies proven to delight customers.
Let’s look at six strategies and why they matter.

Go native from the start

If people already know how to use it, there’s no lag in adoption and getting up to speed. If a platform has to give users directions to navigate, then you’ve likely lost a lot of people. Apps are supposed to make life easier, not more challenging.
This is one of the easiest UX strategies to execute because you aren’t reinventing the wheel; your expanding on it. Though that doesn’t mean your UI should look exactly like someone else’s.

Stay focused on mobile

An app is built to live on a mobile device. And mobile UX is not the same as web UX. First, the screen is obviously smaller and the fonts are larger. From the start, mobile app development has to take into consideration how crowded the screen is going to become. It’s about editing out what your user doesn’t need.
User flow also needs to be a simple as possible and avoid a lot of back and forth. Place buttons in appropriate areas — where they are large enough and highly visible. Plus, your design has to adapt to different devices.

Set expectations

When you click something in an app, what do you do if you don’t get an immediate response? You probably assume it’s broken, especially if it’s your first interaction with it. Don’t make it your user’s last. Instead of nothing, communicate while a task is processing. Use words and phrases like “Loading,” “Rendering,” or “One Moment.” These small touches offer the user the information they need to stay in the app.

Master the navigation tree

Navigation is the foundation of a website or a mobile app. For websites, it can be complex and even overwhelming at times. Mobile app navigation must be as simple as possible. You have to eliminate any possible confusion. Remember, an app is usually about doing one thing very well.
Mobile app navigation follows a tree pattern. The screen or page has a limited set of options to navigate across the page. Also, the user can go “back” at any time. The tree model has rules that can’t be ignored for the optimal UX.

  1. Screens can’t switch from one to another; they must always follow the navigation tree.
  2. All previously visited screens are still available and ready to display when the user hits “back.” These screens must be updated and remain cached.
  3. While navigating down the tree, any new screens must be related to their initial screen. For instance, imagine the screen is about contact information. A screen that might follow that would center on address, phone number, or email entry.
  4. The user must continuously be able to use the “back” button to go the previous page or start a new action.

All mobile platforms have their own set of rules to contend with too. You can’t ignore these when working with navigation.

Animate transitions

Users appreciate animated transitions; they make a transition engaging. They occur when a user completes an action. Well-done animations are also effective in keeping your app dynamic for a seamless experience from page to page.

Ditch error messages

Error messages often pop up when least expected, hindering UX. Instead of throwing up an ugly and off-putting error message, you can offer proactive alternatives like automatically shifting users back to the starting point (before the problem occurred), or to another page better suited to help them finish their task.

Build an app users love with the right UX strategies

These six strategies represent multiple touchpoints throughout the experience of the user. For your app to inspire true loyalty and affection, it has to make a difference in that user’s life. Otherwise, it won’t make the cut when it’s time to delete old apps and free up time and space.
There is a lot to consider with mobile app development, and UX strategies may not be your internal team’s strength. Or they may not have the time to devote to it. Fortunately, at Topcoder, it’s our strength. Check out our latest ebook and learn how to upgrade your mobile UX now.

Beth Osborne

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