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Jul 11, 2016

Mobile UX: 3 Tips from Expert App Developers

User experience is important across the board -- from tangible products to digital websites and apps. Bill Bendrot, Manager of Services and Mobile for the Employee Tools group at Electronic Arts, shared in a recent LiME podcast episode that for mobile apps, "user experience is absolutely critical". Ionic Framework's co-founder, Ben Sperry, and lead developer, Adam Bradley, also weighed in during their LiME podcast episode and stressed the importance of thinking about UX from the very beginning and through every step of the mobile app development process. Users expect to be able to navigate through apps with ease the first time they open it. If they can't, they will very likely abandon the app after the first use, as research has shown that 78% of mobile apps are only used once. So what are the core components of mobile app user experience that will keep users coming back to your mobile app time and time again?

3 Mobile User Experience Tips

After gathering advice from expert app developers, partners, and customers, we've identified the following as the 3 most important things to keep in mind when it comes to mobile app user experience.

1. Have Empathy for the User

Put yourself in the shoes of a user who has just downloaded your app and is going to use it for the first time. Why did they download the app? What value are they seeking? What functionality is most important? As the app developer, this is not an easy task and it emphasizes the importance of app testing. There is a lot of value in having multiple people, with different backgrounds and device types, try out your app in order to understand how users react, navigate, and utilize it.

2. Purposely limit app functionality

Apps are often developed to fit too much functionality in at once. It's not that all the functions can't work properly, it's that as they increase in number, they become overwhelming to users. It's important to present the user with the most important value or functionality, the reason they downloaded the app, right away. That's just not possible if the app is packed with too many additional capabilities or features. Think about Snapchat... The purpose of the app is to take and send pictures. When users open Snapchat, the first thing they see is the camera, open and ready to use, rather than a home screen where users have to navigate to get to what they want. With 1 click from that camera screen users can get to the next most important features -- a list of the Snaps they have received, and a list of Snap Stories that others have shared.

3. Don't forget about visual appeal

Users care about the visual appeal of mobile apps and don't want clunky, old-school pre-iOS 6 looking apps. They expect a modern, sleek design and the best way to achieve that is by keeping in simple. App developers and designers can get carried away trying to incorporate something completely new or novel into their app but it more often than not is just going to leave the user confused. While it might not be the most exciting thing to do, developers should look to the top performing mobile apps when it comes to setting up navigation. Ease of use is essential and by utilizing a similar tab navigation to that of commonly used apps such as Facebook or Twitter, users will inherently know how to use your app immediately after download.

Olivia Holmes

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