Take off your hat cow boy; the days of the wild, wild, west are gone and we’ve settled into a comfortable life of app suburbia.
Apps are no longer downloaded on a whim with no rules on unsettled territory. Today, with overcrowding and fierce competition in the app store, apps are being designed to make life easier and more convenient in order to succeed. We rely on our mobile devices to have instant access to tools that we’ve come to need and if the app doesn’t serve us in some respect – it’s not worth our time.
Smartphone users have a lot of options giving them room to have high standards when it comes to what apps they choose, it’s no wonder why these five mobile UX features are making headway. By making our smartphones easier to utilize, they are able to make our lives easier too.
Strong Ongoing Onboarding
Each smartphone user in the United States will download on average ZERO apps per month. When companies are lucky enough to have their apps downloaded, 23% of users will stop engaging with an app after one use and 62% will engage less than 11 times.
The lesson for mobile UX designers is this: when your app is downloaded, follow up with a great onboarding experience.
The onboarding experiences that are currently leading this trend have the following qualities:
- They show the value of the app to the user
- They set them up with an account; and
- They prompt them for further action
The UserOnboard blog contains an impressive collection of slideshows that “tear down” the onboarding experience of many popular apps including Inbox by Gmail and even Hillary 2016. These slideshows are a great way to see what works and what doesn’t. And because UserOnboard finds flaws in even the best onboarding experiences, it leaves a lot of room for mobile UX designers (like yourself) to get it right.
Samuel Hulick, the man behind the tear downs, tends to favor onboarding processes that show the user how to use the app in more obvious and interactive ways than just a few slides at the beginning.
This trend is worth sticking around. Knowing how to use an app makes the app more convenient for the user and it’s a lot easier to learn (and remember) by doing than by reading.
But the onboarding education doesn’t need to end after the first use. There are many instances when users need to “onboard” throughout their app experience. Accounting for users who learn at different paces and in different styles, apps have been including help guides that can be activated on command and by triggers.
The trending time to invoke continuous onboarding is when new features are released, the success of new features depends on the user’s ability to adopt them, but there’s also an entire class of applications that naturally are complicated and depend on continuous onboarding for their success.
Apps that offer multi-use cases or extend a web or desktop software are oftentimes equipped with on-screen guides that transition the user from the large interface that they are familiar with to the interface that fits in our palms.
Before the Internet there was a time when a person could live their entire life without remembering a single password. Those days are gone and in their place is the era of logging in.
If you are Google, Apple, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, Yahoo or a financial institution then you’re forgiven. But for the rest of the app world, we are begging to not have yet another login credential.
Social logins are a time saver and also add to the one-handed navigation goal (more on this later). If I can hit that one large button that says Google instead of clicking in a text field to type in my full email address (and please never ask me for a user name) then you’ve earned points in my book.
Confession: I went months between Snapchat uses because I couldn’t be bothered to remember my username and password.
There is a significant camp out there that is sensitive to sharing information and would rather create unique password and login credentials for every app. For these folks the email option is necessary, but for the rest of us, social logins are a trend that make our lives so much easier.
Interactive Push Notifications
Push notifications are finally becoming a welcome feature.
In the past, I meticulously adjusted my push-notification settings to only receive the ones I truly liked but would still be bombarded them. When I opened my phone to see this mobile housekeeping list, I would dread it.
Now, I don’t mind so much. Updates in 2016 have improved my notification panel to become a place for quick interactions that are focused and productive allowing the user to interact with the app without having to open it.
News applications such as The Guardian app will let me read the entire breaking news update. Some competitors will tease the user with incomplete information that requires a click (and loading time) to get the rest.
Many messaging apps including WhatApp will let users respond to a message on top of whatever is already open.
Audible, Amazon’s audio book application, will notify users when an item is ready to download and prompt them to download it straight from the notification.
In all of these examples, the user experience is put ahead of direct app engagement.
Think outside the box – or in this case, think outside the app.
Google has made translating incredible efficient on mobile devices with their cross-app function. When a user copies text, an icon appears that initiates an immediate translation. In many cases, the copied text was destined for the translate app anyway but with this cross-app function users don’t have to take the extra step.
However, there is a reason for caution here: if the cross-app feature becomes too intrusive, users will be more inclined to uninstall the app all together. This could be negated with the option to turn off the cross-app function or with really good strategy.
Begin asking your team: when do users need you? In the case of Google Translate, users need the app prior to opening it so they found a way to enter their service at that moment.
One Handed Navigation
One handed navigation is becoming increasingly important as users opt for “XL” smartphones. In my case, my thumb can reach from the bottom right corner to the center of the screen and no further.
When you look at Twitter’s UI, they have their two main functions, browsing and Tweeting, available in the bottom right corner of the screen.
Snapchat also does a good job of keeping its crucial buttons near the bottom of the screen and its most crucial buttons in the bottom right corner.
Many applications are breaking the mold and placing their navigation menus on the right instead of the left. Toggle and Yummly both are prepared for users to casually (one-handedly) browse their apps and invite actions to take place with minimal effort.
This isn’t a trend to enable laziness, but rather the opposite.
One handed navigation means a parent can hold a sleeping baby while managing a work project or a novice chef to review the ingredients while stirring the pot.
(Bonus: Snapchat is also good about continuous onboarding as you can see from their pink “Save to Memories” on-screen guide.)
The other side of one-handed navigation is to use standardized gestures.
Best represented by drag-down-to-refresh or pinch-to-zoom, we’ve come to be accustomed to certain gestures.
When a user knows the action they want to take but fumbles through the gestures required to get there, the positivity of the user experience is reduced.
Gestures should be intuitive and at the very least consistent within the app.
It’s time to recognize that apps are part of the cumulative mobile experience and don’t exist as isolated technology.
Mobile UX professionals should be looking at how their app integrates into the larger experience of using a mobile device. Consumers are looking to be entertained, learn, communicate and store information. The latest mobile UX trends show that user-centric functions are being prioritized over brand-centric functions.
You can find your next UX solution by visiting WalkMe Apps today.