It’s no secret that smartphone users prefer using native apps to the mobile web. They love the enhanced experience, speed and ease of use, and businesses are responding to the demand by moving beyond a mobile-friendly site to include native apps in their mobile strategy.
However, when businesses start thinking about deploying an app, they also get bogged down thinking that their app has to be super innovative. And this translates into apps that are hard to navigate, confusing to use and impossible to interact with.
Smartphone users have a low tolerance for apps that fail to work the way they expect. Unsurprisingly, 79% of users will only try out an app once or twice before giving up. For this reason, businesses should stick to navigation, layouts and user flows that have been proven over time. In short, business app design should…
A case for being basic
Being basic means doing what is expected. When it comes to how your app works, user actions should translate into expected results. Not to be confused with your content – which should be unique, engaging and yes, even innovative – your app design should follow a tried and true approach that ensures usability.
It’s not just apps that are going basic – websites have been basic for a long time! Born in the early 90s, the web started out as text-based before “advanced looking” graphics (think animated text, clipart and .gifs) and Flash drove creative site design, navigation and page layout. It’s interesting to note, that back in the day a simple 5 page website might have put you back +10K!
Web design has come a long way since its inception in the 90s (Lego in 1996 vs 2013)
The concept of usability appeared once we ditched Flash for CSS and designers began to adopt common design practices based on user testing data, giving way to the standardization we know today. In fact, because of standardization, building a website is easy and affordable for most businesses thanks to customizable (basic!) design templates that stand up to what we’ve learnt about usability. And this concept extends to mobile.
Building responsive and mobile sites have taught us what works and what doesn’t, and now smart businesses are adopting standardised frameworks that consider device & operating system (iOS, Android, Windows), standard user interface (UI) elements and design principles specific to native apps.
Reduce go-to-market times with standardised app design
App design can be just as easy as building a website thanks to DIY app building platforms that regulate compliance details, allowing you to concentrate on creating amazing app content. Here are 5 ways app building platforms help standardize app design:
1. Adhering to iOS & Android style guidelines
The basic principles of user-friendly app design are laid out in Apple’s iOS Human Interface Guidelines and Google’s Android Design Principles. App development tools like AppsBuilder provide you with templates that are built according to these standards, ensuring quality design and compliance around adaptivity, layout and aesthetics like color, font, icons and graphics.
2. Predictable app navigation
Apple says it best: “People tend to be unaware of the navigation experience in an app unless it doesn’t meet their expectations.” Building your app in a controlled framework with pre-designed hierarchical, flat or experience-driven navigation will ensure that tapping on menus, buttons and links should follow predictable patterns and flows.
3. Flexible screen layouts
App content should take center stage, so layouts should be optimized for engagement and conversion. Customizable layout templates help you publish content without having to design screens from scratch. The downside of templates, whether they be for mobile apps, websites or even emails, will always come down to flexibility and that’s when adding a custom coded screen can fulfill your requirements.
4. Fast and easy integration
With plug-ins and widgets, you can quickly enable specific app functionality, including those that support specific OS technologies (like iOS Passbook for coupons and tickets) as well as incorporating dynamic content from third parties, like social networks, eCommerce platforms and monetization platforms or other marketing automation tools.
5. Worry free privacy & security management
App developers need to play by the rules when developing features and functionality that doesn’t adversely impact other applications, the operating system, or the user. This includes protecting user privacy and personal information (like access to email, photos saved on the device, etc). App building software can help you stay within the limits thanks to pre-approved features and functionality that meet privacy and security controls, as well making it easy to declare and manage permissions for specific actions or views.
Should all apps be basic?
No. Just as templated websites haven’t replaced web designers, certain types of apps will always rely on hand coding. Plus the app economy relies on innovation to disrupt and push design thinking forward. But the pressure on businesses to be innovative can be counter-productive, especially when their goals can easily be satisfied by “tried, tested and true” designs that can be customized for their brand. Trading off of long development times and high costs, being basic means spending less time worrying about technical or usability concerns and more time on creating content and experiences consumers demand in a mobile-first world!