September 17, 2018 Why Your App UX Needs an Overhaul: 5 Areas to Improve for Higher Adoption + Less Friction

For an app to make it in the ultra-competitive world of mobile, it must have a solid user experience (UX). App UX plays a huge role in adoption. Users may download your app, but if they don’t use it, the chances of it staying on their smartphone or tablet are slim. In fact, 75% of users open an app once and never return.

Users, especially digital natives, have high UX expectations. It needs to be more than intuitive; UX often needs to be clairvoyant.

What is app UX?

Before we dig into whether your app needs a UX overhaul, let’s understand exactly what it means. Mobile app design is different than web design, mostly because it only lives in the mobile ecosystem and relates to a finite set of actions or experiences. App UX, simply put, revolves around how easy the app is to use — how it anticipates the user’s needs and aligns with a customer-first approach.

What’s included in app UX?

There are many elements that fall under app development UX. It’s anything that impacts the user’s end interaction with your app. This translates to usability, performance, functionality, the user interface (UI), and design. That’s a lot of moving parts, but with the right UX designer and strategy, you can overcome these challenges.

While your app UX may not be perfect, there are plenty of ideas for revamping and reimagining it. Your UX can be greatly improved by considering these five initiatives to boost adoption and use.

Sign-up screen revamp

Did you know your sign-up screen’s UX can dramatically affect retention? Either it can be a welcome sight for users or a deterrent. The sign-up screen is a user’s first impression. That means there needs to be as little friction or pushback as possible. If there is friction — meaning, there is something that makes a user stop — this can drive high rates of abandonment.

To turn this opportunity into one that exudes excellence in app UX, think about why it’s necessary and what you can do to improve it. Be aware that whatever you ask for on the sign-up screen better be short and sweet. Sign-up forms should be for the bare necessities. There’s no need to force a complete profile page at this point; name and email should be sufficient.

Passwords are another point of contention at sign-up. This can cause friction. Is a password necessary at sign-up? Can it be added later? Do you need CAPTCHA at this point?

Users want to be able to access the app with as little effort as possible, so don’t make it cumbersome to sign up. There are alternatives to CAPTCHA, and most of the time, it’s okay to delay passwords. If you send a sign-up email to the new customer, then they can confirm and be taken to a password screen.

Also, there’s another school of thought on sign-up screens — that they shouldn’t be the first thing a user sees. It may be too soon to ask someone to sign-up. Maybe they need a bit of an introduction first. This could be an explainer video or copy focused on the benefits of the app.

Make in-app permissions less scary

Permissions are often necessary for in-app functionality, but they can also scare users away and negatively impact app UX. The last thing you want is for users to drop off because of permissions, never to return. Most users are hesitant to give away information.

The key to getting users over their apprehension is to explain why permissions are necessary. Even if it seems obvious, it’s best to go ahead and state it. It’s also best to ask for certain permissions based on actions taken by the user. For example, if a user creates an image or graphic in an app and wants to share it, this is time to request access to social media profiles. This scenario gives users a very clear reason as to why they must do A in order to accomplish B.

Micro-interactions matter

First, let’s define what a micro-interaction is in app UX. They are defined moments that relate to a specific use case. Anytime someone interactions with your app, a micro-interaction occurs. It’s a million different things — signing in, downloading, liking, sharing, etc.

From an app UX perspective, micro-interactions have the opportunity to make an app feel more personalized and human. They can even inspire positive brand connections too. Because micro-interactions are so brief, they are often overlooked. However, they matter in app UX.

Consider how these moments can stand out. It’s time to add some creativity to the mix to exceed user expectations. This could be some quick, witty copy to go with the action or an interactive chatbot that is ready to help.

Optimize the user flow

This is the basis of app UX — understanding how users interact with your app. The user flow should be a series of goals. There are several ways to optimize user flow, and therefore UX.

Divide larger tasks into smaller ones. Too many steps can be overwhelming. How can you break it down? Think about the checkout process in an e-commerce app. Each part of the process can be a step: choosing shipping, payment information, and the confirmation. By limiting the number of actions required, you’ll improve comprehension and retention. When the task requires a number of steps, sustain momentum by clearly showing what’s next.

In the flow of UX, prioritize one primary action per screen. This is a simple rule that, when followed, makes an app easier to learn and use.

These larger tasks can also be minimized by using the information you already have about your user. Your app knows who you are and where you are, so there’s no need to repeatedly ask those questions.

Clean up the clutter

Another critical aspect of app UX is keeping it clean. There is no reason to clutter up your app with stuff that doesn’t matter or is an unnecessary distraction. This is the time to cut out the noise.

A cluttered UI overwhelms users. Is your screen overloaded with buttons, images, text, and icons? While you want to include as much information as possible, you can’t clutter up such a small screen. It’s about finding the right balance of information, aesthetics, and white space.

An opportunity to enhance your app UX

There’s really no room for error in your app UX if you want to keep users happy. Whether you are in the planning stages of app design or have an existing app in need of a refresh, there are always opportunities to enhance UX. That also means you need design experts on your team, like those at Topcoder. We have a talent network of more than one million designers and developers ready to work on your project.

Beth Osborne

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