5 Tips for Creating Knock-out UX13 October 2015 ‐ 5 min read
Developers and designers, ignore UX at your peril.
You can create an incredible app, enable access to vital information or build a store that sells products everybody wants… but if you ignore UX, you might as well spend your time making coffee. User Experience (UX) is a fundamental concept that underpins great development and excellent design but it’s also the one arena that many mobile applications fall down on. Roderick May, our in-house UX legend, shares his top tips on creating an excellent user experience for your app:
Beautiful things are wonderful to behold, but the moment they don’t work properly, they become frustrating for the user.
Not just easy on the eye
Beautiful things are wonderful to behold, but the moment they don’t work properly, they become frustrating for the user. Aim for beautiful functionality when you’re designing, as Rod explains: “Design is the easy part; crafting pixel perfect artwork is the cherry on top of the design process. Figuring out what the user needs and what will go on every screen is the exciting bit that happens before the icing. You can only truly say you have considered UX once you have watched your consumer interacting with your product.”
Balance Your Layout
Aim for symmetry or continuity in your design. Simple really is smart here, as well-structured layouts are easier for users to follow. That includes content too – try and avoid large swathes of text, and aim to get your point across quickly. Rod finds that “the graphic designer in me craves the balance and symmetry on all screen designs. In mobile design, having a small space to work with, every piece of real estate is extremely valuable and needs to justify its existence in your application. The content on the screen needs to add value that aligns with the application’s strategy and drive the purpose of directing the user in the intended direction.”
Consistency is Key
If you’ve placed your ‘back’ button on a certain area of the screen, don’t move it to another area on the next screen of your app. Move them, and your users could end up making errors or pressing the wrong button, leading them to close your app in frustration. That’s not what we want! Rod emphasizes this as he explains: “Consistency in application design is relevant as users expect their native iOS or Android application to behave like the rest of their favourite applications. Don’t get me wrong - a pleasant surprise is always welcome, but battling with Apple or Google’s guidelines is never going to be easy on your user.”
Test, test and then test again
In design and development, there are never final tests. Test your app on every platform, every device possible and at every step along the way. Bugs happen, code corrupts but consistent testing will tell you this, sooner rather than later. Rod tells us: “at 4i, testing applications is at the heart of what we do, testing it ourselves and testing it on the apps intended target market. You only know how an application is going to feel once it is developed or in the prototype phase. Software on a mobile device is alive and needs to be interacted with.”
Software on a mobile device is alive and needs to be interacted with.
Fix the big ones first
The devil may be in the details, but the solution’s often uncovered in the big picture. When you discover a series of bugs or flaws, work on the biggest or worst problem first. Very often, the smaller issues can be fixed by tackling the largest one first. Rod outlined the bug reporting process at 4i: “We log our bugs and discrepancies in an order of priority, as you need to launch your app as soon as possible to the public, so that you are able to learn from it. Naturally all bugs must be smashed first, a font or pixel can be done with a quick update. Obviously there is a line, as users have become spoilt and that first touch point is so crucial. Be sure to deliver quality.”