Recently, we have spent a lot of time watching testers navigate their way around the smartphone apps of a well-known British newspaper. What is becoming increasingly apparent is the importance iconography has to play in a user’s experience of a site. With the growing dominance of smartphones and tablets, and the limited real estate these smaller devices offer, icons are especially important, when words will not fit. At times icons can be misleading or misunderstood but the rise in digital conventions is aiding a smoother UX experience in many mobile sites.
During 2013 Web Usability has enjoyed working with the Met Office on a wide variety of website, mobile site and app projects, both in the lab and out and about with their business users. We are delighted that the Met Office has been happy with the services we offer and way we work, and has decided to extend the contract for another year.
We have spent the summer immersed in apps. Here are our top suggestions.
Think about user goals and put yourself in their shoes. Provide usable and useful content.
Manage expectations. Your app description must clarify what it does and doesn't do. It should be short, bullet pointed and not full of jargon.
Managing expectations when producing an app is vital. Not doing so leaves users disappointed and could potentially damage your brand.
Take the Sainsbury's app for example. Do you expect to be able to buy your food shopping on this app? Most people would answer 'yes' to this question. So the question is, if you can't order shopping on this app, what's it for? It can find your nearest Sainsbury's, tell you about the latest offers and provide you with Sainsbury's news. Whilst these features are nice to have, it is questionable whether this is what users expect. User reviews include Sainsbury's need to launch an iPhone shopping app, I for one have defected to Tesco's. Come on Sainsbury's, keep up with Tesco. This app is useless. We want a Sainsbury's shopping app, not a guided tour to nowhere!. In their defence, however, the app description does outline what it does in reality: a store locator, information about top deals, Sainsbur's news and Nectar points information. Despite this though, this app fails to meet users' expectations.
Over the last month or so Web Usability has been getting to grips with user testing apps. The number of these is growing exponentially and, while many are great, there are even more that aren't very useful or aren't very usable, so there is clearly a need to test these with users to ensure they work properly.
With thousands of apps on the market, users are overwhelmed with choice. To ensure an app is successful users need to be able to find it, think that it's relevant to them and find it easy to use.
With over 1 million apps in the Apps store, it's hard to make your app stand out. Our testers tell us that they sometimes use downtime to browse the app store but most often they are scanning quickly for an app to fulfill a particular need. They are in 'fast flick' mode. So what catches their attention? Names they know and icons which give strong scent about what the app can do for them.