What is the most important thing you pay attention to when design user interfaces or hire someone to do it for you? Designers like creativity and usually put this ability on top of the requirements to their professional self-realization. But is it really the most important ingredient you build your project with? Since creativity is tied to emotions and they tend to be fickle, a prerequisite of a successful design is predominantly based on knowledge.
It is true that designers pay much attention to the style of the product putting a lot of efforts into integrating different trendy features. Look at this new material design for Android and iOS 8 upcoming release! Every year technology requires new skills from designers but this is not what we are going to talk about.
The point of this article is what things you’d better take a notice of to make your idea work from the start. What I mean is focus on user experience design created by a product designer as it is much more important than just modern graphics created by a skilled in Photoshop specialist. Dmitry Prudnikov, our art director is sharing his knowledge about how to help your app succeed with flying colors.
6 things to remember about product design
1. Design should be effective. In other words, it should solve problems. If it multiplies them, there is no way for your design to win the audience.
2. Design is your sales tool and an elevator that lifts key metrics. You can read about KPIs and other app success factors here.
3. Good design is produced by circumstances, not the designers. Adrian Forty described this conception in his book «Objects of Desire». He tells about how a designer’s profession appeared historically and what made the best products the best. In other words, a chair being just a product of designer’s imagination has minimum chance to become great, contrary to design that appears under the influence of complex social, economic and even political processes happening in society.
4. Think about graphic design and your customer’s aesthetic satisfaction with the product you’ve made as if it were a little pretty bird sitting on top of the iceberg. Your customer came to you to design a thing that will make money. Trendy colors and flat buttons are cool but not the highest priority you should focus on. So put your ambitions aside and help the client make money.
5. MVP is a way to effectively spend money and discover the product that will pay off. 6. AARRR is your pirate metrics that you should totally hunt for if you are an aspiring startup entrepreneur with big ambitions and a desire to develop something worthy and profitable.
AARRR when design matters
Now as we reached the «pirate zone» we’ve got to talk about AARRR and how to make them increase. By the way AARRR are acquisition, activation, referral and revenue.
Read also: Mobile analytic tools for growth hackers
How do you acquire new users and lure them in your app?
This is the very first stage and the first checking point. People come to you from different channels: social networks, SEO (search engine optimization), SEM (search engine marketing), emails, blogs, contextual advertising, offline sources (events), partnership programs, etc. The main indicator is the ratio between transmissions to the app / website and advertising expenses or ad views.
— Attractive app icon
— Beautiful app shots in the app store
— Catchy banner
— At first people see what catches the eye and only after that try to find out if the idea is meaningful
— Web banner should be concise, clear and laconic
— Brag. Use social evidence instead of long talking about yourself. By social evidence, I mean numbers, like how many users use your product, different awards, achievements, sums of money you’ve made — whatever you feel proud of.
— Sell a dream, a lifestyle, an ideal, not an app or a website.
— Sell advantages, not functionality.
Did your users like the first visit into your app?
You may consider it an achievement when a user spends 30 seconds in your app and uses one key function. What can be a key function or an action that we call activation?
— making pre-order
— clicking on the button «share» or «like»
— A/B testing is better that any assumptions. If you doubt whether to make a button red or green, why don’t you test both and analyse the results? As simple as that.
— Red Routes testing. Taking its name from London important roads and the example of how Transport for London makes them smooth and enjoyable, red routes testing ensures your app or the website run just like your users like. To make it happen you identify the red routes in your product and analyse user experience. As a result, usability obstacles that prevent a user from continuing his journey are eliminated.
— Make it clear that your landing page has continuation. Sometimes design of the page isn’t telling users they should scroll down to see more information. This can be the reason why the users leave the page shortly.
— Build minimum fields in any kind of form.
— Keep the focus, don’t overdo the links. Small forms and prompts are better to show on the same page. The less transmissions you have, the more possibility there is for a user to reach the finish line which in your case is a conversion.
— Gradual involvement instead of fast registration. For instance, one of the startups we featured in a startup digest, called RocksBox does it just fine with their style surveys in the types of jewelry a user likes at the stage of creating a profile.
— Use some default options. Don’t force users to choose. People appreciate when the choice is made for them.
— Give more freedom with entering user data, don’t make it strict.
— Make your buttons look useful for a user. (like one button offers you to «save money», the other one asks you to «register»)
Read also: Testing in app development
How many active users do you have?
If a user visited your website / app, registered there and comes back, you must retain him. Retained users are your clients. That is why this metric is considered the most important. Retention instruments:
— Automatic emailing
— News feeds, RSS («Weekly digests» and so on)
— System events
— Push notifications
— Use the fear of losing something once a user quits the app instead of stressing the advantages of the product. Every application should have some features that create a habit which is hard to get rid of. People’s fears are widely used in social games, but why not to have something like that on your app / website?
— Put emphasis on urgency rather than uncertainty
— Give preference to limitation rather than abundancy. This is what we did with push notifications in our app My Day. We didn’t disclose all cards to make the user curious as to open the app. This brought us increase in retention. Read about what exactly we did in the story of one product.
— Break down the list of notifications into separate options. In case a user doesn’t want to be notified about everything, you should make it possible to have a choice of what to be notified about and what not to.
— Make it clear that a user can unsubscribe from the mailing list whenever he wants. Under such condition a user won’t unsubscribe right away but might do it later. Use this time to win your users.
— Encourage a user to pay regular visits to the app / website: think about some new information to remind the user about your app’s existence (word of the day, an event reminder like in My Day app), some free useful tools (Candy Crush), badges and ratings (Foursquare).
How many users started telling their friends about you?
Referral is all about the word of mouth and this works best as a product promotion tool. How it may look like:
- Users email their friends about your app
- Share to social networks
- Partnership programs
- Share to social networks
- Partnership programs
Users tend to share their achievements especially if it wasn’t easy to achieve. You should offer them to share their success everytime they reached it. If there is nothing much to achieve in your app, make up those possible achievements out of the blue. Try to repeat the call to action multiple times instead of showing it only once.
How much money have you earned?
Easy to calculate not that easy to achieve I would say. But here are some hints for you:
- Create advantages, not functions. This is important at both stages — acquisition and revenue.
- Offer the product directly and confidently. Don’t operate with presumptions.
- Give a choice to a user, don’t make him try hard to remember what to type in or excruсiate with long descriptions and writing about oneself.
- Use recommendations instead of displaying equal options, like they do in Google Play store.
- Try to give a gift, don’t close the sale right away.
It's all about users
Think about how to help a user and a customer, not about how to self-realize and satisfy your ambitions. Throw out of your head any assumptions about how this or that feature should be implemented and how the user will use the app / website. Nobody knows that. Only changes will give the answer. Design can be ugly but effective.
Read also: Design costs worldwide
I hope this article was useful. If you have some questions about crafting apps / websites and would like to invest in great design, our team of designers will gladly do their best to help. Meanwhile, there is something awesome to see on our Dribbble page.