Making sure your app works properly is important. Buttons need to work, links can’t be broken, and actions need to do what they say they do. But have you ever thought about how useable your app is to users? You might think that if your app is working, then it’s useable. But unfortunately, usability really doesn’t stop there. So, what steps can you take to increase your app’s usability, and why is this important?
Why Usability is More Than Just “Does it Work?”
If you’ve started reading this article, you most likely already want to make your app more useable. But you may be wondering why app usability is so important, and why merely ensuring the app works without breaking down isn’t sufficient in itself?
Well, app usability is directly related to user satisfaction. User satisfaction is directly related to how successful your app is in terms of ratings and reviews. This also affects your download rate.
Usability also has an impact on your uninstall rate. The first time a user opens your app is the first and most important impression they’ll have of it. If that inaugural experience is bad, your app could be one of the 50% of apps people uninstall after they first open it. Or, it could be part of the further 20% of people who uninstall an app after the first 24 hours.
In short, if your app doesn’t have good usability, it’s going to flop.
Because usability is such an important factor, here are 5 steps that will help you improve it and ensure a useable, more successful, future for your app.
#1 Simply Does It
Our lives are incredibly complicated these days. Many people rely on technology to make their day simpler, not more complicated. So, you need to make sure your app is not overly complicated to use.
But what does “simplicity” mean when it comes to app design?
Well, it mainly means not having your user interface (UI) cluttered with an abundance of options and icons. Users want to be able to identify an integral feature easily so they can access and use it quickly. They don’t want to undertake an extensive search and rescue operation for the purpose of doing the most important things that the app is designed to do.
Keep the most essential and core options and functions on the main screen and in plain sight. Everything else that’s secondary can be neatly tucked away somewhere else, such as in retracting menu bars.
#2 Bigger Is Better
Now that you have your main screen pared back to avoid UI cluttering, it’s now time to think about the size of your elements. There’s a general rule of thumb to use for deciding on the proportion of these:
Go large, or go home.
Firstly, larger icons and elements help to ensure simplicity as they are easier to see.
Secondly, it just makes it easier for users to select things. Not everyone can precisely locate the correct pixel to make something in an app happen. Fingers can vary in size, and dexterity can be affected by something as innocuous as post-work fatigue. If your users end up accidentally selecting the wrong action or option too often, they’re going to become frustrated, uninstall your app, and leave a bad review which will hamper your download rate.
Both of these factors, making icons easier to see and more selectable, is important if apps developers want to cater to the growing number of senior app users. After all, the number of elderly users is looking to only increase in the years to come.
#3 Search and Your Users Shall Find
Some apps are simple enough that it’s pretty easy for a user to find their way around without any extra help. However, if your app is a bit more complicated, and has many functions and options, you might want to consider adding a search function.
But why is a search function so important?
Well, if users are not able to find something specific, they are more likely to seek out a search function to help them locate it rather than systematically browse every menu and sub-menu.
So, consider implementing a search feature if you feel your app could benefit from one. Giving users an option to find something quickly when they’re unsure of where it is, will make your app more usable.
#4 Don’t Be Too Animated
Animations can be a really great tool to use in your app. They can playfully and dynamically build a relationship with your users, helping them feel relaxed and comfortable, and enjoy using your app. This certainly makes it more approachable and useable.
Animations can also be used to communicate information to the user visually. Some examples would be a little celebration when you’ve finished a task in a to-do list app. Or, they can do things like give users encouragement to finish a task or goal.
However, if you do choose to use animations to make your app more user-friendly, make sure that you keep them short and simple, and use them sparingly. Make them too intricate and implement them too frequently, it may cause simple tasks to take too long to complete and frustrate the user. This will decrease the usability of your app instead of increasing it.
#5 Ask Your Users For Feedback
Whilst there are plenty of other ways you can research how to increase your app’s usability along with the 4 points covered so far, your users are probably the best people to give you advice.
But why ask your users?
Well, they’re the ones actually using your app. They’re the ones who will come across little usability hitches and foibles that you may not have even thought about. Maybe, something you thought was streamlined and succinct doesn’t work as well in practice as it did in development.
So, be sure to have a structure at hand to get good feedback from your users. This can be anything from making a habit of regularly checking and responding to reviews on your app’s store page, to building in a direct feedback option in your app, or contacting users and setting up focus groups.
Popular shopping list app, Listonic, have a team working to respond to Google Play reviews on a daily basis. Many of the suggestions from users from this channel have directly influenced how featured are improved, or have even helped introduce new features that make the app even better to use.
Regardless of your method, knowing what aspects of your app can be developed further to improve usability will be invaluable in making sure your app performs as well as possible. This will help keep your download numbers up, and your active install rate high.