Our attention spans are dwindling by the day, particularly online. When a new page offers something more exciting just a click away, we don’t hesitate to flee and never return. As our prospective customers digest more and more content online, it becomes increasingly important to make sure that what we’re producing is not only interesting and high quality but also user-friendly.
At Cariboo Digital, we know the importance of using Human Centred Design when creating a digital product and we want to share our knowledge.
Creating a great web or mobile application (a digital product) means focusing on the needs of your customers by creating something they will love. But what actually is a web application and how is it different to a mobile app?
A website application is a piece of software or programming that can bring new features to your website. Examples of these are; forms, shopping bags, online purchasing, video, spreadsheets and many more.
A mobile application is a piece of technology you’re probably more familiar with if you have a smart phone. Examples of mobile apps are; Spotify, Instagram, Google Maps, mobile games, social media, photo editing and 8.93 million more.
This blog piece will take you through our top 5 tips on designing a user-friendly application to help your business thrive.
1. Get to know your user
Knowing your customer should be at the core of any aspect of your business but it’s essential when you’re creating an application for your website or mobile device. When you understand your customer, it becomes significantly easier to create an online experience that they will love. While it might be tempting to opt for a wider appeal, it’s far more beneficial to tailor your online space to your prospective customers – they’re your niche market, so speak to them!
Start talking to your customers, ask them about their goals, and their obstacles. Those are the problems you want to be solving! What’s the best way to talk to your customers?
2. Make it easy
One of the most common reasons to leave or stop using an application is that users struggle to figure out how the app works or even understand how it benefits them. If your customer can’t get a clear understanding of what you offer in the first 10 seconds they’ll be gone. Ask yourself; Can your user do what they ned to do with relative ease and without confusion? Will they be able to easily become familiar with the application? Or, even better, will they be able to use it with ease for the very first time? Your application should solve a problem for your users or easing an aspect of their lives in an uncomplicated, almost effortless manner.
You’re not reinventing the wheel, it’s all about creating an intuitive digital experience for your customer - don't make them do something that doesn’t feel natural and force some cognitive overload - I.e. don’t make them think!
Also think about their environment and optimise your online application for that. Are they likely to be on a mobile device? If so, think about how to make that an equally appealing experience. Don’t make your customers work to understand your business.
3. Ensure it’s accessible
We often forget just how challenging it can be to consume online content with certain impairments or environmental disruptions. Accessibility is something we should all consider when creating digital content. There’s a variety of features which you can easily make available on your site, such as audio descriptions and easy-access tools which ensure no prospective customers are excluded from discovering your business.
Apple and iOS are a great example of how to make your platform accessible, check out Apple’s accessibility promises (link to: https://www.apple.com/uk/accessibility/iphone/).
4. Make it useful
Your application needs to serve your customer in some way – once you know what that is, you need to be interrogating every aspect of your design to make sure you’re doing exactly that! Most useful apps focus on getting one task done very well – at least at the beginning.
Netflix is a great example if this! The app’s sole purpose is to give you direct, immediate access to engaging video content that you want to watch – what's more useful than that? Similarly, Airbnb serves the purpose of letting people book accommodations - it shows you the options that are available for your selected days and lets you reserve them online – easy!
Making your app useful and beneficial to your customer - is the key to returning users and a sustainable business.
5. Ensure great user experience
If you don’t understand your customer, you have no hope at delivering what they need or solving the problems they have in an intuitive and clear manner.
You need to able to attract users and solve a problem in a simple, effective and enjoyable way if you want your app to succeed and convert prospects into customers.
To provide the best user experience possible be prepared to observe, research, test your riskiest assumptions, interview, talk and build prototypes. Test and learn from your insights and continue to do so until you have ensured a great user experience!
6. Bonus: Embrace failure
Failure is an inherent and integral part of modern software design because we rarely get it right on our first try. In fact, getting it right on the first try isn’t the point at all. The point is to put something out into the world and then use it to keep learning, keep asking, and keep testing. When designers get it right, it’s because they got it wrong first.
So, now you know the five key things you need to build a great web or mobile application that is both desirable and valuable enough for returning customers! Focusing on who your users are, what they need, how they’ll benefit from using your product and how they’ll achieve their goals – will help you build a viable and sustainable business that will continue to thrive.