4. App Design Principles Part 1: App Navigation and Search

App Design Principles: Part 1 (App Navigation and App Search)

  • An estimated 200 billion apps are expected to be downloaded in 2017.
  • Marketers spend around $3 billion on app install advertising in 2015, an increase of 80% from 2014.
  • As many as 25% of app users open an app once and never return.

Today, many businesses use mobile apps to deliver content and services to their audience.

But most apps struggle to get discovered because of the competition in the market.

To stand out and thrive in this competitive market, a mobile app has to be relevant, useful, and valuable to engage and retain its users.

In this article, we’ll share essential app design principles that’ll help you do all of above.

Every year, more and more people are engaging with their phones.

They use it for a brief amount of time, and in critical moments: when they “want to know,” “want to go,” “want to buy,” and “want to know”.

To engage users, apps have to be efficient and offer awesome experience to users.

Not to mention, they have to be well-designed and useful too.

How?

Following simple and powerful principles is the answer, something we personally learned after working on hundreds of mobile website design.

Of course, your apps will have to change significantly, but it will also remove barriers that prevent you from offering great experiences to your audience.

Just like mobile websites, mobile apps has to help users easily complete tasks and make it easy to convert.

With these things in mind, we started to look after key ingredients that make great mobile apps.

For this, we conducted a user study.

We gathered over 100 people and ask them to use 100 different apps spread across market niche such as insurance, e-commerce, food ordering, ticket sales, travel and services. (Social networking, gaming apps, and music services, were not included in the study.)

Guide apps users through task completion

Then, we focused only at conversion-oriented tasks such as online reservation booking, purchasing a product or a service, and researching plans and prices, among other tasks.

We discovered many insightful data through this study.

And today, we’re as excited to share with you those insights essential to build brand engagement as well as create user experience that delights everyone.

We’ve placed our finding in categories, as app navigation and in-app search, forms and registration, and usability and conversion.

With that introduction, now let’s get started with app design principles: app navigation and in-app search.

I. App Design Principles: App Navigation

Effective and delightful app helps users find what they’re looking for, faster.

Follow these key principles to design effective and delightful app navigation and app search features:

1. Show what your app can do, immediately

Image Credit: Think With Google

To enhance engagement, you must address user’s tasks immediately.

Help your app users complete their tasks by:

  • Placing a call to action up front and center of your app.
  • Highlighting key app’s features at appropriate places in the app so they generate interest and delight rather than confusions and frustrations.

2. Create user-friendly menu categories (organize and label)

Image Credit: Think With Google

Users don’t know what to do or how to interpret menu categories that don’t align with their mental models for categories.

For a menu category to be user-friendly, it has to be clear and not overlapping.

This is highly critical, especially when users use menus to find what they’re looking for.

3. Allow users to “go back” easily, in one step

Sometimes, users may want to go one step “back,” as they use the app.

Your app should have this functionally so that users don’t feel they’re forced to start from the beginning, which at many times may result in losing any unsaved data.

By letting users go back one step, frustrations are removed and it becomes easier to convert.

Image Credit: Think With Google

4. Make it easy for users to change location manually

If you can, use features such as auto-detection of location in your app, which saves time when people want to find something in their city.

But, sometimes, app users may also want to find something (a store, for e.g.) that’s not near where they’re located.

In this case, make the manual entry of location straightforward and easy.

Image Credit: Think With Google

5. Allow easy transition between mobile apps and the mobile website

Sometimes, apps can take a user to a mobile web for more content or to complete a particular task.

This is normal.

But confusions and frustrations will soon arise when:

  • The look and feel of the design is completely different between the app and the mobile web, and
  • The transition time is slow and the users are forced to wait the web page to load.

In order to minimize these frustrations, do this:

  • If transition is necessary, ensure the design is consistent between the two platforms, and
  • The transition is fast and worth taking.

Image Credit: Think With Google

II. App Design Principles: App Search

Effective and useful app search helps users what they’re looking for.

Use these principles to maximize the value of your apps’ search features.

1. Display search field prominently on your app

Users who are looking to do a specific task often use a search field.

They prefer to search rather than browse manually, clicking on a link after another.

So, apps that don’t have a search box placed prominently can easily frustrate and slow down the user.

Image Credit: Think With Google

2. Make sure search results are useful

Many users often rely on the search feature to perform a specific task.

In fact, many expect it to work just like Google.

To enhance user engagement and experience, include useful functions like auto-spelling checker, predictive text suggestion, and recognition of root words, as they type text.

Not only these tools prevent users from making errors, but they’ll also help speed up the search process and keep them driving towards the main objective – i.e. the conversion.

Image Credit: Think With Google

3. Provide filter and sort options

Users can easily get overwhelmed when they see irrelevant or too many information in their search results.

Include sort and filter options to narrow down and organize user’s search results, preventing excessive scrolling or pagination on a small screen.

Image Credit: Think With Google

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