Google cares for the quality of applications submitted and offered through the Play Store, after all, the applications are a big part of the Android ecosystem and they represent how the operating system as a whole will be perceived by users. With low-quality applications being available for download in the Play Store, users will be lead to believe Android is a low quality operating system. Google has taken this into consideration and released a list of principles that will improve and optimize the User Experience throughout third party developers’ mobile apps. Google’s Mobile & Cross Platform Advanced Performance Specialist, Stephen Griffiths, not only has in mind making Android look better and more polished; Griffiths wants mobile app developers to be successful, with what he believes are the main UX elements that can lead to an app’s success.
These guidelines must be considered by marketers, designers and developers alike; the principles are also aimed to the application as a whole, not just a part of it, or else it will look incomplete and inconsistent. The Mobile App UX Principles were created by taking the application’s full life cycle into account; from the first steps of building the app, to optimizing the app’s performance. Android marketing has been on the rise for a while now, meaning there is more competition; but with this new set of UX guidelines, your application should have a better chance of being discovered.
The first thing that the Mobile App UX Principles talk about is how the user is able to adopt the application, how well he or she can interact with the app without any previous usage, how welcoming the app is when it is launched for the first time.
Stephen Griffiths makes emphasis on how app developers have to remove any kind of roadblocks the application could possibly have, the app’s content must be accessed without a hassle, it must be quickly delivered to the user. Splash screens are the first thing the user will see when entering the application, they must be engaging and must help the user with their first contact with the app. Your application’s homescreen has to include the main tasks, you must question yourself, “what does my application do?”, the answer to that question should be included in the homescreen. Only primary content should be shown in the homescreen, secondary content can be accessed through it, but only after a tap or a swipe. The first time a customer opens your application, he or she doesn’t want to be bothered with sign-up requests if they are non-vital, only add request of that type if your application cannot function without the user signing-in.
In order to make a purchase through your app, the user must be able to find whatever he or she needs to make an educated purchase, no other apps or services must be consulted by the user, your application must include all of the necessary information for the user. This information has to be accessible in a fast manner. If possible, add a search option, this gives customers the ability to search for the desired product or piece of information within your app; Search is not limited to keywords, it can also include QR or barcode scanning, and image search. The product screen is where the user can manage what he or she desires to do with the product. Whether it is a transaction or just saving the item for later viewing, product screens should be where the user decides what to do with the product or service. Another key aspect for usability is that your application should be able to capture conversions between devices, without any hassle, not even if the other device or touch point is offline.
The less effort the user needs to navigate and make its way through the app, the more the user will return and use said application. There should be minimal distractions in the path to what the user wants to get from your app. When your application is a web-based store, your “shopping cart” should encourage users to checkout and finally making the purchase, but previous to confirming the sale, the user should first see every item included in the shopping cart, along with the price for each. When offering the payment options your application must include an engaging way to input the billing data of new customers, such as scanning the user’s card; the application should also provide an express payment method for returning customers, so they don’t have to fill their information more than once. When in the “Checkout”, there should not be any distractions, this is a way for customers to feel safe within your app and to confirm all the information they’ve given, this will also reassure them that they want the items he or she selected, and not change their mind by offering them a different product through a distracting ad or recommendation.
Customers will come back to your application by following the previous guidelines, if your app delights the user, he or she will surely come back to further be pleased by the experience your application provides. Customers will enjoy an application that gives them control, one that doesn’t force them to do a specific task, users must be able to manage all of the information they’ve inputted to your app, everything, from accounts to transactions should be manageable and easy to review. Vouchers should be included within the app, give something back to that will bring him or her back for more; this will also improve their experience as they’ll feel like they are not the only ones giving or paying you something. Your application will be more engaging if the user can interact with your app outside of the app itself, this is achieved with widgets. Sometimes widgets are used incorrectly, they should not only be another way to access the app, as the main goal of widgets is to create value and enhance your application’s user experience. There are a few more ways that the user can interact with your app outside it, one of the most common, apart from widgets, are push notifications. An alert should only be sent to the user in very specific cases, they should not interrupt the user and should always be respectful of the user’s attention. Push notifications normally show personal updates, calendar events, or relevant promotions, more often than not, the last is abused; Marketing promotions should only be sent to the user if they are somehow related to something he or she has shown interest in.
By following these basic Mobile App UX Principles, your application is guaranteed to have an advantage in the market. Google has made it clear that the company wants more successful applications in their own Play Store, with better and more engaging apps, users are more likely to keep downloading and purchasing more applications from Google’s own store. With the guidelines Google has also provided a way for new developers to create a better bond with their customers by offering a better user experience, and with that a pathway for a successful app.