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5 mobile app user experience tips

Amichai Nitsan Senior Architect, HPE Software
For mobile apps, user experience (UX) is crucial. If your UX is bad, users will simply move on to other apps.

For mobile apps, user experience (UX) is everything. Installing apps is so easy that grandma can do it while watching Game of Thrones. But if your UX is bad, users will simply move on to other apps—especially when there are hundreds of similar apps to try.

Mobile app UX problems and solutions

So what can you do to improve your mobile app user experience? Here are a few things users always mention as UX problem:

1. App stability and reliability

Users have urgent needs. They'll open your navigation app when they're already lost and in a hurry. They'll use your expense management app on the last day of the quarter. They'll forget your price comparison app until they're already in the checkout line. These are bad times for crashes!

Users are also creative: They'll stress your app in ways you never imagined. How confident are you that your app will never crash? What are the chances a user will relaunch an app after it crashes once? Or twice?

Bottom line: Users want apps that are unquestionably reliable. Continuous testing is a must.

2. Fast app UIs

Users are impatient. Your most loyal users will complain if the app takes more than two seconds to respond. Less loyal users will abandon your app if it can't complete an action in the time it takes to walk to the kitchen. And prospective users won't even try the app if it loads too slowly. They'll just give up and look elsewhere.

Your user might be be waiting in line to buy pizza in a noisy restaurant, not sitting in an air-conditioned room on a comfy sofa. Be fast and keep it simple. If an action takes too long, break it up so each step moves quickly.

And don't forget that your app can run anywhere—in a fancy London office or at the Maracanã Stadium in Rio de Janeiro. Did you check how fast your app runs while connected to a Brazilian carrier, while roaming, with 100,000 other people connected?

Bottom line: Speed matters. Use application performance monitoring to ensure quick responses.

3. Simple user interfaces

You're standing in Times Square, and you want to go to the Empire State Building. You open your rideshare app, and it asks for your address. Wait, what?! Why does it need your address? Why not use your device location?

Users won't click extra buttons if your competitors can finish the same task in a single step. And if you ask the user to fill in a long form with 20 fields? Fuhgeddaboudit! Keep this in mind when you ask your users to describe their problem instead of simply having them take a picture of it.

Bottom line: Keep it simple. It's better to lose a feature than to overcomplicate the UI.

4. Integrate with other apps

You invested a lot of time developing your app. In a sense, your app is your life. But for the user, your app is just a small solution to an even smaller need. If they can't easily share your content with their WhatsApp friends, or jump into your app from a browser link, they'll feel like your app takes effort. That means they'll leave you for the first app that takes less work—even if your app is better in all other areas.

Bottom line: Play well with others. App integration is key to keeping your users involved.

5. Don't drain battery life

Your music streaming app works great. It reacts fast, and users can always find their favorite songs from the '80s. But one of your users just noticed that the app drains her battery. Way too quickly. Would she recommend this app to her friends?

Users are very sensitive to their battery life: To some, it feels like oxygen. Make sure your battery consumption, along with other critical resources like data and memory use, are kept to a reasonable level.

Bottom line: No app is useful on a dead phone. Prioritize battery life over gee-whiz features.

Mobile app user experience is about respect

An app with ingenious features and a lousy user experience will be less successful than an app with limited capabilities and a fantastic UX. When you have a brilliant app idea, make sure you consider the user's perspective. How, when, where, and why will they use your app? How can you build a great mobile app user experience around your idea? Answer these questions, and grandma will be far less likely to delete your app.

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