I’m going to start off this post by saying that native apps have many, many advantages to them (greater stability, performance, security, integration with existing features on the phone, and more!). Web apps too, have their own advantages; the ‘better’ one depends on the task.
What characteristics would improve your app’s usability?
1. Make sure your layout is responsive.
1. Make sure your layout is responsive.
This is especially important if you are creating a web app, or a native Android app.
Web apps: Responsive layouts are crucial for web apps. Not only will your app be viewable on a multitude of different desktop resolutions, but users will be using your app on their smartphones as well (read: the user experience should be similar on all desktops, as well as all Apple, Android, Blackberry, and Windows smartphones and tablets). A recommended approach is to make your website dynamic.
Native apps: I specified the importance of a responsive layout for Android apps because unlike Apple’s iPhones and iPads, Android devices do not have specific screen dimensions. To give you an idea, there are 4 common screen density-independent pixel (dp) resolutions (1 dp = 1.5 px), extra large, large, normal, and small. Within each dp, are different screen widths. For instance, there are 3 common sizes for 320dp screens (240×320, 320×480, 480×800). In short, for your native app to have high usability, it will need to fit on many different screen sizes.
2. Screen real estate is valuable, so while you should keep your screens uncluttered, you should also provide easy navigational tools.
With screens shrinking in size (and then increasing, due to an increased adoption of tablets and larger smartphones), screen real estate is important. Keeping your apps uncluttered will help users accomplish the task quickly. However, in the case that the app is not simple enough in nature to adopt a minimalist design, easy navigational tools should be provided (drop-down menus, slide in menus, etc). See Occam’s Razor in UI Design: Minimizing Complexity for more about uncluttering your interfaces.
3. Don’t break out of patterns.
If a usability pattern has been established (whether it is by apps in general, or within your own app), don’t break out of it. For instance, if most of your screens had a search button in the top-right corner, all future search buttons should also be in the top-right corner. An example of a general pattern to not break is to make sure things that aren’t buttons shouldn’t look like buttons.
4. Minimize guessing.
Guessing is frustrating, time-consuming, and makes it difficult to learn how to use your UI. To minimize it, always provide feedback. If your app is loading, provide a visual spinner. If there is an error that is stopping your app from running, inform your user about what they could do to help (e.g. turn on wifi). Mokhov (2011) recommends guiding the user towards their next steps by making those areas more prominent (e.g. larger button).
5. It’s annoying to type for too long on a smartphone, so make sure users only type if they have to.
Keyboards on smartphones are small. Keyboards on any touchscreen lack tactile feedback (a slight phone vibration per tap just doesn’t do), so minimize the amount of typing users must do. For instance, sign up forms should only ask for required information, which usually brings it down to around 4 fields ([user]name, email, birthday, password).
Apache 2.0 (2012, Dec). Supporting multiple screens. Retrieved from http://developer.android.com/guide/practices/screens_support.html
Hacker, W. (2012). Boost your mobile e-commerce sales with mobile design patterns. Retrieved from http://uxdesign.smashingmagazine.com/2012/12/19/boost-your-mobile-e-commerce-sales-with-mobile-design-patterns/
Mokhov, O. (2011). 10 essential web application usability guidelines. Retrieved from http://speckyboy.com/2011/03/31/10-essential-web-application-usability-guidelines/
Webcredible. (n.d.). 7 usability guidelines for websites on mobile devices. Retrieved from http://www.webcredible.co.uk/user-friendly-resources/web-usability/mobile-guidelines.shtml
With the rapid adoption of NFC technology, now’s the time to read up on mobile wallets. Imagine a world where waiting for the customer ahead of you to count out coins is not only dwindling but non-existent. Imagine a world where you won’t even have to fumble around for your bank card for small transactions; just use the phone that’s already in your hand.
Statista has compiled an infographic illustrating all the data you need to know about mobile wallets.
Check out this similar story: Infographic: mCommerce in Tablets vs Smartphones for the HolidaysRead More
As people become more and more involved in technological advances, their children do too. Here are quick snapshots about kids and mobile technology.
Speaking of kids, here’s one way to entertain them with your iPad
Push messaging is a feature that is available through a native mobile application (NATIVE = an app that is downloaded rather than viewed through a browser) that offers marketers an incredible amount of functionality. Since native apps require users to download an app, the user has invited marketers into their pocket, living room, office and basically wherever the user brings their smartphone. Therefore marketers can capitalize on contextual messaging to deliver sales promotions, product awareness messaging and other direct marketing tactics.
Geo-fencing or GPS Alerts
Due to the mass adoption of mobile and smartphone technology, users have begun to demand tailored messaging that meets their needs and objectives. GPS has become an incredible feature for marketers, because it allows them to deliver contextual messaging to their customers and prospective customers.
Interested in mobile statistics and mobile marketing? You may also like: Charts: Worldwide Smartphone Market Share and Trends, What is Push Messaging and why is it so Powerful?, 6 Things to Consider when Building a Mobile App
I am going to use a big box store as an example. A user watching television notices a big box store, they frequently shop at, has a mobile application. They download the application because they were made aware that the app offers deals, sales and other benefits such as a store locator and hours of operation.
Upon download the user is asked a brief set of questions to determine their preferences.
- What are the departments you shop in most (secondary and tertiary as well)
- What are your favorite brands?
- What type of products would you like to receive alerts about
- Where are your favorite stores (GPS based through a store locator)
Upon completion of an initial customer assessment, the user is telling the mobile application their preferences. Therefore since they have set their favorite departments, brands, products and stores, marketers are able to deliver relevant messages.
Let’s go through the purchase decisions, involvement steps and channel relationships
1. The user/customer wakes ups in the morning and decides they would like to go to a big box store
2. They get in their car and drive to the store, not expecting to buy more than one new product
3. Since they have preset their preferences (favorite stores, products, brands, departments) and they have downloaded the app, as soon as they walk into the store push messaging, is sent to their smartphone with contextual content
4. The user opens and views the contextual content and puts their phone back in their pocket
5. Since preferences have been set, geo-fencing can provide messaging when a customer walks by one of their favorite brands, departments, products etc.
6. The user puts items in their cart that they may not have noticed and checks out
7. The application stimulates buying and improves sales and ultimately channel relationships because the big box store is making more purchase orders through their suppliers
8. Not only, does the app provide increased sales and channel relationships, but it also provides data about consumers who own smartphones and what they are looking for while at the point of purchase. Therefore retailers are able to improve their supply chain through demand metrics.Read More