“It’s not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” – Steve Jobs
We use the Internet in our own way; we want it to be fast, informative and hassle-free. We use it to suit our interests. The internet dispenses functional data, news and knowledge for our personal, social and economic well-being; and it’s up to us as to how we make our time on the world wide web worthy and productive.
The time can be made productive, along with easier browsing thanks to software applications designed to deliver better user experiences. At Osmosys, we use several such applications to improve customer experience – and design web and mobile applications for Clients.
A software application is made for users that need it to perform a particular function. An application may be able to do a hundred things or more, but for us, the key factor is that it should be user-friendly. Providing users with a high quality, usable app could enable the designers to make a mark in the market while encouraging users to build trust in them.
When designing and building an application, we need to focus on precisely what users are looking for so that we can create something that can meet their expectations and go beyond them. We can do that by getting to know users better, and by observing and recording their patterns and behavior online.
Collecting this vital user data and using it to understand user patterns is just the initial step of the long design journey we take here at Osmosys. Today’s mobile users demand a lot more from apps if they’re going to retain and re-use them after the initial download. We at Osmosys understand that the best user interfaces are the ones that go out of their way to provide users with easy to use, simple, fully functional tools.
User experience, which is the value that the user gets while using the app, is an essential element in retaining their interest and potential custom.
Below are a few of our tips and tactics that we use here at Osmosys to create the best user experience for. software applications.
Good design nullifies problems. But to provide better solutions, you first must understand the challenges faced by the user and the company’s ultimate objective for creating the app.
A proper understanding of your Client’s goals and requirements for creating the app is therefore the first step you need to take before designing the product. What is the business or real word problem they need to solve?
You should interview the client personally and let them explain in the fullest possible terms, all the reasons behind the exercise and any insights on the behaviours and attitudes of the end users – or other factors in their lives that may have a bearing on them using this application – as these will impact your design. (See our Accident Informer Case Study. This was an application we designed to a real world EU challenge, as EU drivers are constantly crossing borders, with different countries having different accident response units and protocols, different insurance requirements, and different means and processes for notifying family and friends in the case of a driving accident. )
To understand how to best design the app, you will then need to understand the motivations and requirements of the end users. You can follow industry-standard user research methods, such as group research and individual discussions, but typically you would be looking to understand, what pain are you relieving, or what opportunity are you helping them explore? Then, why would they use this application?
If an application already exists, review it with the end users, along with any other competitive products on the market. Get feedback and adapt to design an improved product. Repeat until you delight.
Once you have an understanding of all the stakeholders needs for the application, you can start to design a product that helps improve the status.
To find out the best features that your app should have amongst its components, you need to undertake research. What features are currently popular in the world of app design? What are users crying out for?
Good research will fill you in on what your competitors and others in the world of applications are up to – and there’s no harm in being inspired by them. What approaches do they use to provide ‘best in class’ applications? What are the top features and benefits of the leading apps right now?
See if you can track down any studies of the latest user experience design principles and trends. What can you learn and apply to make your app the absolute best it can be for users?
3) Sketch and Design
After finding out what the user wants and their specific preferences, you need to make sure the app is eye-catching and stands up to the quick glance of a mobile user. Consider how easily the visual design conveys the relevant information about the app itself.
Visual consistency is key and should run throughout the app. However, consider that the app may be the primary point of interaction with your brand so you will need to ensure it is the best encapsulation and visualisation of all that your brand stands for. This app should help enhance your brand after all. So, ensure that your colours, typography, tone of voice and any imagery are ‘on brand’ (following your brand identity guidelines) and from a brand perspective, what are the objectives for the brand with this application. (e.g. if this is to help position your brand to a new user group, this may mean certain aspects of your brand will need to develop accordingly, like a different typeface, or refreshed logo).
These elements brought together will create a seamless visual flow that will usher users from the initial components of the design towards the functions that will enable them to complete the task they downloaded the app for in the first place.
Key points while Sketching and Designing:
- Brainstorm ideas and work on basic sketches/ designs
- Hold sessions with stakeholders to get their thoughts from a technical perspective
- Rework sketches and review them again with stakeholders
- Design UI images
- Finalise the theme, working guidelines required and specs for implementation
- Ensure the overall design is ‘on brand’ and meets the brand strategy and objectives
- Design icons to display on screens
Personalisation comes into the process when past behavior of the user is observed and accurately recorded by an app before being stored for re-targeting purposes. If a user has been detected to have specific buying patterns, you can use this information to provide them with relevant suggestions and deals when they’re about to make a purchase. Personalisation helps provide a unique, appropriate experience to the user. The better the aligned experience is with a user’s needs and preferences, the more likely they are to build trust in you and the more willing they will be to continue using the application.
5) Reduce Search Effort
When you help your users find what they need swiftly, you satisfy their needs and drive conversion rates. There are a lot of strategies you can pour into the functionality of your app such as searching by keywords and barcode scanning. Providing users with such customisable search options and filters to guide them directly to exactly what they’re looking for can significantly increase conversion rates.
Since technical staff engage in the early stages of the process, they can start implementation while the design phase is still in process.
The development team builds back-end functionality first and connects it with the User Interface (UI) when the designs are in their possession.
It is advisable that the design team is involved in this step to enhance the development phase.
7) Assure security and trustworthiness
In the end, everything between a manufacturer and the user comes down to trust. A relationship built on trust lasts longer – the user needs to be certain that the app is free from malware and is designed to comply with all relevant security software. Be sure that the software is safe and take the time to ensure your users know and appreciate that it is too.
Once you have finally designed the product as per the user’s needs and requirements and have implemented the product features as indicated from your research, you should evaluate the end product using the following factors:
Is the product/system usable?
Is it fast and easy to use?
Is it an easily searchable (easy to find) app?
Does it provide the expected solution to user’s concerns and queries?
Is it ‘on brand’?
These are some of the ways we work at Osmosys, so that we can deliver the best user experience available.
We’ve got plenty more where that came from too – so keep an eye out for further helpful tips and advice – all proven to work, all gained through our own hard-earned experience and success.
For more such tips and help regarding your software, you can contact us at Osmosys.
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