Because there are over 6.3 billion smartphone users worldwide, it makes sense that business owners are putting energy toward apps. After all, you can use apps for marketing, selling, and so much more. In some cases, they’re just as helpful (if not more so) than websites.
But an app is only good if it’s user-friendly. A poorly designed app interface can result in an app that no one wants to use, no matter how interesting it may be.
But what makes a user-friendly app, and how can you identify if your app isn’t hitting the mark? Let’s talk about it. Read on to learn more.
A Clear Purpose
This may seem simple, but what is your app for? What are users supposed to do with it? If this isn’t obvious from the get-go, you don’t have a user-friendly app.
There have been many creative and innovative apps that have failed because their purposes weren’t immediately apparent. Remember that you may have to “walk users through” your app.
Users should be able to navigate the app with ease, without having to guess how to perform common necessary tasks. If an app user can’t figure out how to work the primary functions of your app, it’s not user-friendly.
Clear menus, buttons, and a logical flow are essential for this. Before you publish your app, have volunteers try to navigate to all of the essential features. If they’re struggling, it’s a sign that your app design needs work.
Remember that the design may seem intuitive to you because you were there during the design process and you understand your own intentions. Other people may not be as lucky.
Simple and Clear Design
A clean and uncluttered design with a straightforward layout helps users understand the app’s interface and find what they need right away.
Yes, it’s fun to have flashy and decorative apps, but those apps aren’t always the most functional. Don’t put form over function in this case. If you have to sacrifice some “bells and whistles” to have a user-friendly app, so be it.
Consistency in design elements, such as icons and buttons, also contributes to user-friendliness. Variety may be the spice of life, but it can make your app confusing.
We’ll talk more about inconsistent designs later on, but keep that in mind.
When we think of onboarding, we often frame it in the context of jobs. Apps also have an onboarding process during which your users figure out all of the essential functions. It’s like a tutorial period for the app.
A well-designed onboarding process introduces users to the app’s features and functionality in a user-friendly manner, helping them get started. It leads them through the most essential features of the app and guides them through any important functions or set-up requirements (like making an account, for example).
Some apps are so straightforward that this isn’t important, but you should always assume that your audience needs guidance. Again, it’s best to test this with volunteers before you officially publish the app.
The app should respond right away to user interactions, minimizing loading times and delays. Slow performance can frustrate users and may even cause them to leave the app altogether.
While data for apps isn’t readily available, it’s clear that users prefer faster websites to the extent that a slow site may cause them to go to a competitor in the future. Apps are no different. If your app is slow or laggy, your users may become frustrated and choose to abandon it.
Again, this is a case in which an overly elaborate design may not be best if it slows down your app.
An accessible app ensures that users with disabilities can use it. This includes features like adjustable font sizes, voice commands, and screen reader compatibility.
Many designers don’t consider this when they’re creating their apps. There are over 40 million people with disabilities in the U.S. alone, and many of those disabilities influence how people interact with apps. Do not alienate millions of people by producing an inaccessible app.
If you’re not sure what to change, consider sending out a survey asking people what accessibility frustrations they have with their current apps (if yours isn’t out yet). This can help you avoid common issues.
Efficient Search and Filters
For apps with extensive content or products, an efficient search function and filters help users find what they’re looking for quickly. Don’t make your users go hunting for the features or content they’re looking for.
Make sure the search feature is easy to use. It’s helpful to have an auto-fill feature for common terms so users don’t have to spend as much time typing.
When errors occur, the app should provide informative error messages that guide users on how to correct the issue. Avoid any technical language and provide solutions or suggestions that can get users back on the right track as soon as possible.
If there are easy quick fixes for common problems, users should be able to solve them on their own. If you find that there are common user errors, it’s a sign that your app design isn’t as user-friendly as you may have thought. That’s an opportunity for you to make some changes and improve the app!
Consistent User Flow
Users should have a consistent experience throughout the app. Avoid sudden changes in navigation or design that can confuse users.
It’s tempting to change up designs on different sections of the app. After all, you want to show off your creativity, right? Unfortunately, getting too creative can make your app more difficult to use and navigate.
If you want to get creative, make sure there are still design through-lines. For example, perhaps the color scheme changes but all of the buttons and tools stay in the same place throughout the app even across different pages.
Signs of a User-Unfriendly App
So how do you know if you don’t have an easy-to-use app? There are a few things you can look out for. They’ll help you determine when it’s time to go back to the drawing board and work on redesigning problematic aspects of your app.
Here are the signs of a user-unfriendly app.
High Bounce Rate
Do your users leave the app after opening it without engaging with any content or features? A high bounce rate suggests that users are not finding what they want on your app.
If a significant number of users uninstall the app soon after installing it, it may indicate that they’re not happy with the user experience or that they have difficulty using the app.
What if users download the app but stop using it shortly after installation? Low user retention indicates that users are not finding value in the app or are encountering usability issues.
Either way, that’s a sign that something is wrong.
Consistent negative reviews on app stores or social media platforms often highlight user frustrations, bugs, or design flaws. Pay attention to recurring complaints and issues raised by users.
It’s common for app designers to take offense to negative reviews, but try to remember that these reviews are constructive, even if they seem harsh. Negative reviews are a gift that tells you what you need to do in order to improve the user experience.
High Support Requests
Uh oh, you’re getting so many support requests for your new app. You’ve set up a FAQ section and a “common fixes” page, but those requests keep coming in. Now what?
If a significant number of users reach out to customer support with questions, complaints, or issues related to app functionality or usability, it’s a sign that something isn’t right. Even if the app seems functional to you, remember that the average user doesn’t know your perspective or intention, and they’re also not an app designer.
All of those support requests will tell you what’s going wrong with your app so you can make it right.
Inconsistent User Feedback
Do your users provide inconsistent feedback, making it challenging to identify clear patterns or issues in the app’s usability? This can indicate a lack of clarity or consistency in the app’s design.
You may find that some users have no problem at all navigating your app, and that may make you think that it’s perfect as-is. However, inconsistencies show that your app isn’t user-friendly for everyone. You want to make sure that the majority of your users aren’t having problems with your app design, otherwise, you may want to make some changes.
Is Your App Interface User-Friendly?
So what do you think? Based on this information, do you think your app interface is as user-friendly as it could be? If not, it may be time to head back to the drawing board and start making some much-needed accessibility and usability changes.
Are you ready to create the app of your dreams? At Synaptech, we want to help you. We offer custom software solutions for app development, software design, and more.
Reach out to us today for a consultation so we can start working together on your next project.