This is the Part II of the series – MAKING YOUR APP CROSS 1 BILLION DOWNLOADS and it talks about pushing the envelope on product UI & UX. We take a deep dive into how elegant, innovative, and highly-functional UI and UX design can lead to delightful products that sell themselves. The following is the full list of blogs in this series:
Part I: Building Habit-forming Products
Part II: Pushing the Envelope on UI & UX
Let’s get started.
Part II: Pushing the Envelope on Product UI & UX.
While the principles of creating habit-forming products are extremely helpful in the product conceptualization and prototyping stages, applying them alone will not make your product outshine your competitors and win your customers’ hearts and wallets. Virality needs to be earned and sustained. This is where intuitive product design, especially, User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI) come in.
Product Virality kicks in when users love your product so much that they self-promote it in their communities and networks with little or no nudge from you. It is the ultimate effortless form of user-driven marketing, where your product becomes a household name due to the reputation it earns through the exponential spread of positive word-of-mouth, thereby saving you precious time, dollars, and efforts in marketing the product. Elegant, innovative, and highly-functional UI and UX design is the key to such unstoppable organic growth.
In this section, we tap into our one-and-a-half decades of experience in successfully designing viral products that sell themselves.
1. Identify your product features accurately
There are two kinds of design failures – too many features and too few features. Interestingly, it is the first one that’s more commonly found!
Being meticulous about which features to include in your product and which to eliminate can sound tedious, boring, and even pointless. After all, isn’t a product with more features better? Well, not necessarily.
Selecting the right features comes from a deep understanding of your target user persona, their needs, their decision-making processes, their expectations, their receptivity to innovation, and their product usage behavior.
Tip: When adding a feature, ask yourself this – will your customers see any real value in it? Will they be delighted? Will they be willing to pay a premium for it, or choose you over other brands because of it? Will it make any material difference to them if you don’t add this feature?
Feature engineering is a challenging process and directly feeds your UI-UX team with its decision-making process along the way. Only the best and the most experienced product designers can crack it. Apart from researching your users, studying your competitors, tracking the innovation trends in the field, and staying updated with the changing market dynamics will help you to get it right.
2. Focus on evoking a strong emotional response
For most of us, our feelings and emotions complement our reasoning when it comes to choosing a product. Thus, it is not enough to build a product with a great rationale, it also has to inspire us to an elevated state of mind. That’s when products cease to be just codes and screens and become intertwined with our values, philosophy, and feelings.
Making your product soulful is harder than it sounds. But, following a few simple principles in your product UI-UX design can get you closer to the goal. For starters, evoking strong emotions requires your product to serve a much bigger purpose than just the immediate benefits it offers.
Example: Facebook’s short-term benefit for its users is that it connects people, but its larger purpose could be unifying like-minded people beyond cultural, geographical, and economic barriers. Amazon could be offering convenience and value for money as an immediate benefit, but on the wider canvas, it could be a vehicle for making retail reach the doorstep of consumers and sellers alike. Both Amazon and Facebook have incredible front-end and back-end coordination to make these larger purposes or goals come through the app interface.
Find an anchor emotion and build your product around it – like joy, awe, wonder, and love. Your product vision should be simple, original, and humane to be able to create an emotional response around it.
3. Create shared experiences to fuel product virality
Just like humans, apps don’t thrive in a vacuum. Whatever problem your app is solving, it can do so better by crafting it as a shared experience between users and their communities, like friends and family. The bonus? Your product’s word-of-mouth spreads like wildfire.
Example: Health and fitness apps like MyFitnessPal and HealthifyMe have tweaked their UI-UX to enable users to reach their health goals faster by having a ‘fitness buddy’. Language learning apps like HiNative and Tandem enable you to chat with other users in their native language to help you improve your language skills in a fun and conversational way.
Creating the possibility of shared experiences through stellar UI-UX is an extremely important aspect of product design that has benefited hundreds of apps around the world. Take advantage of human sociability and a sense of community to make your app shareable, creative, and engaging.
4. Make your users the decision-makers by giving them the illusion of choice
Your users want to be in charge, instead of being passive participants in your product. Real engagement takes courage because it passes on the baton to the user and lets her/him feel in control of the product experience. Design-led innovation is key to creating the illusion of choice and making your users feel the thrill of making decisions.
From being able to customize the look and feel to having control over how they use the app to make the most of it, all of these are critical to making your user feel like they are in command. User-centricity in UI-UX goes beyond pretty looks and cool features – it focuses on giving the user exactly what they want in the shortest possible time and the least possible effort.
Example: Tutorials and guides often make an app easier to use, but having the option to skip a tutorial because the user wants to play with your app and figure it out on his own, makes him feel a sense of choice and decision-making.
Make all the necessary buttons, items, and data available at your users’ fingertips. Design your app in such a way that the user can choose a feature at that very moment when it is the most needed.
Tip: Enrich your UI by venturing beyond taps and clicks – utilize other gestures like swipe, drag, pinch, scroll, flick, double-tap, spread, and 3D touch in Apple devices.
As Waseem Daher, Product Manager at Dropbox, has advised, iterative app development that happens in increments with valuable user feedback, instead of launching at one go as a complicated, final version, pays off in terms of saved time and higher productivity.
Read our case study on how we crafted India’s no.1 restaurant management app – Petpooja – processing 1 Mn+ bills monthly using stellar and intuitive UI and UX.
5. Create a unique visual experience, but don’t overload your product interface
App front-ends fail for two reasons: 1. Unoriginal and irrelevant UI elements that don’t stand out/align with the brand persona. 2. Going overboard on making the UI unique and ending up making it cluttered.
UI elements that are simple, precise, clear, distinctive, and original always win the upper hand. There is no shortcut to this – design your product iteratively using the best principles and practices of UI-UX design to obtain the most efficient look and feel for your product. Communicate your mission, vision, and positioning to your design team to help them create unique and distinctive visual identities like icons, mascots, so on. Add a touch of innovation and fun by incorporating animations and transitions, but don’t clog the intuitiveness of the interface and the natural product experience.
6. Create a winning user onboarding strategy for higher stickiness
According to a study, ~80% of users uninstall an app after using it for the first time. A poor onboarding process that overwhelms the user with mindless steps and convoluted logic is usually the culprit behind this. Your onboarding process is your make-or-break opportunity to make your user love your app and stay.
Your UI-UX designers must optimize your app’s Splash Screen to make the onboarding process quick, catchy, fun, and entertaining. Splash Screen refers to the first image that users see when they open the app. Keep it as simple and compelling as you can, focusing on holding the user’s attention and keeping the load-time less.
Overall, the idea here is to clearly explain exactly what the user needs to know to get started with your app and see some of the key benefits for herself/himself – nothing more, nothing less. Don’t drown your material in lengthy paragraphs – use visuals, tips, data, and interactive content that creates a sense of conversation and engagement. Did you know? Adding a visual indicator of the progress of user onboarding is shown to increase conversions up to 40%. Last but not least, don’t cut corners on design. Design can make or break your app. 52 percent of users with bad mobile experiences are less likely to engage with a company. From making the app landing page user-centric to delivering a delightful experience through the product, a well-designed mobile app spells higher user engagement and conversion.
In the next article in this series (Part III: Sowing the Seeds of Virality within the App), we explore in-depth the various out-of-the-box approaches that you can use to make the growth of your app effortless and unstoppable.