So you’ve made the decision to go with a native app over HTML 5. You’ve done Java before, so Android (or C++ and Objective-C) shouldn’t be too big of a learning curve right? We’ll save that topic for another blog post, but if this is your first time creating a mobile experience you may find that you will quickly lose every customer you have fought so hard to acquire (more on this in a future blog post as well). Mobile users have lots of choices and are accustomed to a certain level of polish and a certain ease-of-use. And if you’re coming from a web environment, my guess is you will make at least one of these mistakes (In fact, all of our mobile clients at Levvel bring us screenshots containing all of these mistakes. And we LOVE our clients, so you’re in good company). Open up an app that you use regularly like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or your favorite e-reader and see if they do any of the below no-no’s that are so common in enterprise web applications. If you do any of these, you will find it hard to keep customers coming back, no matter how well your app functions.
- Force Signup Immediately Many users will download your app without knowing what it actually does. Even those who do know probably don’t fully understand why they should use your app habitually. Instead: Let them see some functionality without requiring them to sign up or in. Wait until they need an application identity and have seen some value before you ask them to hand over their data.
- Complex Signup Process This is a consumer product, so ditch the 24 page EULA or 16 field sign up form. Instead: Once the customer is ready to signup, consider asking for only a username and password, and only ask for their password once. They can recover a lost password, so if they fat finger it at signup it will not be the end of the world. Users WILL abandon a complex signup process if it’s a discretionary tool. We recommend spending at least 25% of your design time on the UI and UX of the onboarding process. If you can spend more time than that, even better.
- Start With a Menu Want to ensure that your users don’t see the pages you worked so hard on? Put a menu in front of them before they ever see the killer features of your app. Instead: Let users have access to the app immediately while making the menu something they find on their own.
- Devote Significant Real Estate to Non-Essential Items Your users want to see the parts of the app that benefit them. Instead: Make the core app elements and screens use 90% of your real estate and make navigational or menu items as small and self-explanatory as possible. DO NOT DESIGN A WEB MENU FOR A MOBILE APP. If you use one of the common mobile metaphors for menus, this will be easy. Just make sure you forget everything you learned about menus for the web because they have no place in a modern mobile app.
Simplicity is key when designing a mobile app that will attract and keep users. There’s obviously more to designing a great app than what we’ve covered here, but most people coming from a web, desktop, or enterprise development world into the consumer-friendly mobile and social world often take these things for granted.