User experience needs to be implemented in your mobile apps, plain and simple. User experience should be the main focal point during any project you may undertake, but especially during the app design process.
What is User Experience?
User experience (UX) can be defined as a person’s emotions and attitudes about a particular product, system, or service. UX is truly the intersection of psychology and technology, as it examines the relationship people have with the technological products they use. The goal of user experience design is to improve your customer’s satisfaction and loyalty with your company through their ease and enjoyment of use of your product. UX takes into account user behavior, by examining how users navigate through the mobile application and optimizing that experience so that it can be the best it can be.
Difference between UI and UX
User interface (UI) is the external look of your application. UI includes the basic features of a product, mobile app design, graphics, and presentation. UI should be presented so that it is appealing and attractive to the user so that they want to engage with the application.
User Experience (UX)
In contrast, user experience (UX) includes the internal workings of a product. UX encompasses the feelings, perceptions, emotions, and preferences people have while during and after using an application. In order to optimize user experience, it is important to make sure your design resonates with your users’ needs.
Focus on Your Audience
When beginning to design your user experience, the most important thing to remember is that your design should be centered around your audience. In order to better understand your audience, develop personas that you can use to predict user behavior. Use these personas to identify user goals, emotions, pain-points, and behaviors. Starting by developing a better understanding of your audience will help you to remain focused on their needs throughout the design process.
Once you have a good understanding of your audience through personas, begin to map out your anticipated customer journey or user flows. You need to be aware of every customer touchpoint throughout the user experience so that you can predict any problems or potential issues before they arise. If you are able to anticipate your user’s needs and provide them with a near flawless user experience, you can create passion and loyalty toward your brand among your audience.
Create Wireframes and Prototypes
The next step in your UX design process is to begin to develop wireframes and prototypes. When doing so, use user flows as the baseline for your product’s needs. You want to make sure your product is centered around the user, so pay particular attention to user flows in the early stages of development so that UX remains a central focus throughout the design process.
Wireframes are digital, simplified visual concepts for your project. They are created very early on in the design process to gather an understanding of the basic structure of the application before adding visual elements and content. Wireframing should be used to create a strong foundation and to develop a relationship between the interface and user experience. This way, UX is treated as a priority starting with the beginning stages of the project.
Prototypes are dynamic, interactive models that are created later in the design process. Prototypes are created with their respective wireframe as their foundation, but take things many steps further by including the visual elements and content, thereby simulating the actual product. Prototyping helps to give designers valuable feedback of both the user experience and the overall application.
Develop Strong Design Patterns
Design patterns are the relationship between the situation, problem, and configuration that solves the problem. Design patterns will be found throughout your mobile app. When deciding on the best patterns for your product, try to use something that is natural and organic for the medium. This is not an area where you should get overly creative, because you do not want to confuse or overwhelm future users.
When developing design patterns across the interface of your application, consider utilizing repetition among these patterns. Consistency and repetition can be crucial to improving user experience because these qualities will make it easier for users to learn and understand your product. As users move from page to page, they will not find themselves trapped in a continuous learning curve if your design patterns remain fairly consistent.
Use Creative Problem Solving
Throughout your UX design, remember that design thinking should surround your everyday business processes. The mobile app you are creating should be designed to fulfill your business’ and consumers’ needs. Be certain to not leave any gaps in your user experience that will hinder business processes.
Most importantly, try to create a product that answers your users’ frequently asked questions and provides for the needs they have expressed to you, and attempt to do so in a creative way. In order to develop an app that does this well, include non-designers in the design process.
Usability testing is one of the most important steps in the design process. Not only is usability testing important for quality assurance, but it reveals any flaws in your user experience through real trials with real users. This process tests how easy your mobile app design is to use on a group of users and is often conducted repeatedly with multiple trials.
There are two types of usability testing: low fidelity usability testing and high fidelity usability testing, which are described in detail below.
Low Fidelity Usability Testing
Low fidelity testing test your initial design solutions, including your wireframes and very early prototypes. This type of testing gives initial feedback on your design to see if the project is going in the right direction overall. In addition, low fidelity testing can reveal any flaws in your early designs, which can help you to avoid larger problems later on in the design process.
High Fidelity Usability Testing
High fidelity testing uses your finished and more mature designs, including final prototypes or even the finished app. These tests allow you to discover any possible mistakes that may still remain before launching your product. High fidelity testing allows you to catch any errors before the product reaches your users, which helps you avoid having to do damage control later on if those errors remained in the launched design.
Now that you understand the types of usability testing, it is time to dive into the actual process of conducting usability testing on your design. Below we will outline the steps to usability testing.
Step 1: Create a Test Plan
Before beginning to actually test your product, it is important to create a plan. In your plan, you should outline how you are going to test your product and what data you need to collect. It is critical that you determine what metrics you are going to analyze ahead of time so that you can be sure that you collect all of the data you may need for analysis.
When creating your test plan, remember that the performance of your mobile app is just as important as its design. While your mobile app’s design is crucial to a positive user experience, the performance of your product can make or break the user experience. If you have slow load times or broken links in your app, this can destroy the quality of your user experience. For this reason, make sure you incorporate usability testing for both the design and performance of your product.
Step 2: Conduct Testing
Once you have developed a plan, it is time to begin the actual testing. Usability testing is generally conducted by observing users as they attempt to complete tasks. You then will record these users’ behavior and data as they navigate your mobile app and attempt various tasks.
Step 3: Analyze the Data
After conducting testing, it is important to analyze your data and gather insights from the tests you have conducted. There are two major types of data to analyze, the metrics you chose to focus on and user feedback.
When conducting usability testing, there are a wide variety of metrics you can analyze, depending on your product type and company goals. Below we have outlined some of the most common usability metrics.
Completion rate is also known as the fundamental usability metric. This metric compares the number of tasks successfully completed to the total number of tasks undertaken. Completion rate gives you a strong indication of the ease at which users are able to complete tasks while using your application.
Time on a Task
Time on a task is a measure of both efficiency and productivity. This metric shows how long it takes for a user to complete a single task. This metric is another indicator of the ease at which users are able to complete tasks by using your app.
Number of Clicks
The number of clicks is a very common usability metric. It is shown to correlate highly with time on a task, which is arguably a better metric for usability. However, it is important to note that the first click can often be an indicator of task success or failure, which can make a big difference in your overall product success and UX.
Conversion rate is a great measure of effectiveness because it demonstrates how successful your application is at getting users to take the actions you desire. These user actions can range from filling out a contact information form to completing a purchase. When you have a low conversion rate, it is often due to a combination of usability problems, errors, and time. For this reason, it is important to pay attention to your conversion rate during usability testing.
Alongside metrics, don’t forget to analyze and draw insights from the user feedback you receive during usability testing. One of the primary goals of usability testing is to develop an understanding of how your application appears from the user’s perspective. The best way to understand this perspective is through user feedback, so don’t forget to spend some time analyzing this feedback.
Step 4: Develop the Test Report
Once you have conducted your usability testing and analyzed the data, it is time to create your test report. The overarching goal of this report should be to demonstrate whether or not users are able to complete their desired tasks, and if not, you should outline what changes are needed.
Overall, user experience is crucial to consider throughout every step of the design process for your mobile app. From wireframing to usability testing, try to make UX a focal point for your creative energy. If you craft a user experience from the early stages of design, you’ll be able to create a mobile app that captivates users and their loyalty.
Now that you know how to craft a mobile app that is optimized for user experience, do you have an app idea in mind? Here’s how to find an idea for your next mobile app.