Focused Engagement through UX Design Strategy

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Written by Orla on November 12th, 2018

UX design strategy

When working with a new client on a UX design strategy for their mobile app they lay out their full requirements and product goals. The session generally starts with an ambitious statement or goal from the client;

We’re gonna make an app that does everything for our customers…..it’s gonna have everything they need in one place.

While this may be the long term goal, this grand plan was usually sparked by a smaller need in that industry. In a moment of clarity, someone working in an industry found one aspect frustrating and says:

I saw a gap in the market and came up with an idea on how to fix it and it grew from there.

It “grew”

What this generally means, is that the original idea or pain point gets diluted and isn’t as important as it once was. Instead, it now has to encompass all of the needs of the company or industry. The result of which is an overcomplicated product offering. And one that would see the end user frustrated.

It’s human nature to want to group and categorise. Therefore, it seems logical to bundle all related tasks into one place. For instance, we keep everything we need to make a meal in our kitchen. However, we do not keep everything in one cupboard. We separate food, cutlery, cleaning products etc. The places we keep these things are suited to what is kept there, i.e a pantry for food, a drawer for cutlery etc.

When talking about mobile, the user see’s the “in one place” as their phone and not a single app that fulfils many needs. But not all businesses see in this way. That’s why championing a UX design strategy that takes a user centred approach from the start is fundamentally important.

Things to consider for your UX design strategy

Defining success

Some of the most successful apps are single purpose apps. However, success means different things to different people. To some it’s revenue, others engagement. From a UX design perspective, a successful app for the user is one that a user can easily complete a task, in the least amount of time possible.

Often this is not what companies starting out on this journey want to hear. As a UX designer, I’m asking them to cut features that they’ve already decided they’ll need to take over the industry. In effect, I’m asking them to reign in their aspirations. And this is hard to swallow.

Single purpose vs multipurpose

It’s easy to confuse a single purpose app with an app that only has a single feature. This is not necessarily the case. A single purpose app may have multiple features that fulfil one need. Whereas a multipurpose app tries to fulfil different needs/tasks that are within the same category or theme.

For arguments sake, let’s say the task is to find a babysitter in your area. A potential user could go to a well known parenting app that has a big brand behind it. It has “everything a parent needs to know” including; parenting tips and education, things to do, forums, shopping, recipes, child milestones, childcare advice, tips and services.

On the other hand, a potential user could go to an app that was specifically designed with finding a trusted babysitter in your local area.

Which app will offer the user the path of least resistance?

In a long list of features, how can a parent know that the best attention has been paid to the feature that sources babysitters from the big brand app?

They can’t.

Which app is more likely to feel trustworthy with sourcing a babysitter?

A company who has dedicated their whole product to finding a babysitter or an app that has it featured with the same prominence as recipes and shopping?

Focus on the quality of engagement not the quantity

So perhaps you’re coming around to the idea of a simpler product offering. But what about user engagement and retention? When it comes to quality engagement and user retention, trust and respect will be your most valuable feature.

Users are time poor.  The single greatest respect a company can give their users is to respect their time.

This should be called out as a core value right from the outset of a project.

To enter or disrupt the market, focus on that single problem that needs to be solved. This will earn users trust.

When discussing the UX design strategy, make a conscious business and design decision not to demand more than is really required. Design a product that allows the user to easily engage with the product in the least amount of time possible. Focusing on this early on shows respect for the users and again allows the product and brand to build trust.

Onboarding

This is particularly important during the onboarding phase. Laura Levy describes how,  “You have a very small window in which to impress first-time users, and the minute their initial session begins, the clock starts ticking” and how “77% of users abandon newly downloaded apps within the first three to five days.”

The most valuable users a product has are the ones who trust the brand. The app doesn’t put any cognitive load on the user or ask for any more time than is truthfully required. As a result, the user knows that this app will do the job easily when they need it.

They trust it.

And this is simply because it makes their life easier, without demanding any more time than is necessary. The product giving more than they get back from the user is crucial to user retention and building towards accumulating brand ambassadors.

Other Considerations

What is the apps intentions with collecting data?

Users are much more sensitive to how their data is used.

With a single purpose app the intention for collecting data is usually very clear. It’s generally for the sole purpose of improving the offering within the app, which in turn should make for a better user experience.

Even with a single purpose app, it needs to be clearly specified why the data is being collected and to let users know it will only be used in accordance with their experience of the app.

With a multi feature app it can be hard to tell what the data is being used for. There’s generally a feeling that the big brands behind the multi feature app use it as a marketing tool to sell to its users.

Design and development practicalities

Single purpose apps are easier to maintain and update. They aren’t tied to other un-similar features, behaviours or user groups. Single purpose apps allow the UX designers and developers give the best experience for completing that specific task.

If the ambition is still to “take over the world”, single purpose apps are a great way to test the market before blowing the budget on an “everything but the kitchen sink” app.

Conclusion

Investing in a focused UX design strategy can be the most important aspect of your app development project. Allow your UX designer to be an advocate for the user. Allow them to challenge what the business may see as a “crucial” feature. Trust them, they want your users to be happy.

If you would like to discuss your app development idea or need help with developing your app get in touch.

Orla Fagan

Lead UX Designer

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We offer native app development for iPhone, iPad, Android and Windows Phone; with full service from idea generation through to getting your app on the App Store. If you’d like to discuss your app development needs, get in touch.

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