Whenever we go to industry conferences or events, we talk to other attendees about unresponsive mobile gestures. Very much to our surprise, many don’t know exactly what they are. Some mobile professionals have never even heard of the term and have no idea what it stands for.
This fact becomes even more extraordinary when you realize how important unresponsive mobile gestures really are for mobile apps. From our experience, they can be a big reason behind an app’s low retention rate, negative reviews and overall poor performance on the app market.
Today, we’ll enlighten you to the fact that unresponsive mobile gestures exist. We’ll discuss what they mean, why they can be so harmful to an app’s usability and retention, and how they can be tracked (and ultimately eliminated).
What are unresponsive mobile gestures?
Remember when you finally gathered enough courage to send your high school crush that friend request on Facebook? Remember how he/she left you pending for what felt like eternity? That’s an unresponsive gesture. But all jokes aside, unresponsive gestures occur when a user gestures something in an app (taps a button, swipes or pinches somewhere) and is met with absolutely no response from the app, whatsoever. Some users may think the app is broken. Maybe the app really *is* broken. Or maybe they’re trying to navigate (to no avail) through the app in a way that seems logical to them. Whatever the reasons may be, the result is always the same — frustrated users trying to navigate through an app that (to them) seems glitchy and poorly designed. In an age when user experience reigns supreme, this can quickly turn into a huge issue, hurting the apps usability and retention.
Two angles of the same problem
There are two sides to the unresponsive mobile gestures coin:
– Functional side
– Design side
On one side, there’s the functional problem — the question of whether the app’s navigation actually works or not. Obviously, having an app whose navigation doesn’t work properly will result in frustrated users and angry reviews written in all caps. The problem here is that without actual user feedback (typically through a feedback form within the app or through reviews on the app store), mobile professionals might have a really hard time identifying and remedying problems in navigation.
On the other side, there’s an even more subtle problem of the app’s design. Will users find the app intuitive and logical to use? Did you choose a tap gesture where a swipe would seem more logical for your users? This problem is quite subtle as it is impossible to spot and track through quantitative analytics, and in many cases, users won’t even report this as an issue. They’ll just consider the app’s user experience poor and could look for a better solution in a different app.
How to track (and eliminate) unresponsive mobile gestures
Let’s take a look at a real-life example: a user installs a mobile app and is greeted with a login wall. This wall prevents the user from moving further through the app before he / she registers and creates an account. The wall offers a couple of possibilities — to create a fresh account, or to log in through different social media accounts.
In scenario number one, the user is not really interested in creating an account and giving the app personal information about themselves, before checking out what the app has to offer. So, the user looks for a button where he / she could skip the registration process.
The button is nowhere to be seen, so the user tries (unsuccessfully) swiping right at the bottom of the login wall, across the app’s space that’s usually vacant. As the app doesn’t respond to the user’s gesture, it becomes a notable point of friction, causing frustration and also affecting overall retention.
In scenario number two — the user taps the “register with Google+” button, but nothing happens.
An obvious bug which can easily fly under the mobile professional’s radar. Users looking to register with Google+ end up leaving the app.
In another example, a user installs a cooking app, filled with awesome recipes. While browsing through the app, the user finds a cool recipe worth trying out, so they expand it to see the ingredients. One of the ingredients is unfamiliar to the user, but there is a picture of it. The user then starts tapping on the picture, hoping it’s a button that will take them somewhere where they could learn more about the ingredient. As it turns out, that picture is no button — it’s just a picture. So now the user needs to leave the app, bring up the browser, look for the ingredient, then go back. Not really seamless, not really intuitive or user-friendly.
Touch heatmaps to the rescue
So how do you track these things? Obviously, traditional quantitative analytics tools won’t help much. They can just signal a problem (users are increasingly abandoning the app; users are quitting the login page too fast; users are leaving the app’s particular pages too soon — to name a few examples), but without a closer inspection, mobile pros won’t be able to pinpoint exactly where the problem lies.
The solution can be found in touch heatmaps. This powerful cutting-edge analytics tool aggregates all of the users’ interaction with the app’s various pages and creates a visual overlay. This tool usually uses a gradient from blue to red, where blue represents areas of the app which are least interacted with, while red represent the exact opposite.
With touch heatmaps, it becomes easy to get user feedback and track where users are tapping, and which parts of the interface are pulling in the majority of the users’ attention. With no more than a glance, mobile professionals can see if users are swiping through areas that are not intended for such use (like the bottom of the login wall), or if they are tapping on something that doesn’t even work.
With touch heatmaps, app pros can learn where their product needs additional navigation options, or where the navigation needs more work. Solving users’ problems, creating a more intuitive, user-friendly navigation suddenly becomes much, much easier.
As you can see, unresponsive gestures can signal problems on a functional level, as well as problems on a design level. These problems, if not addressed on time, can be a cause of serious frustration among users, ultimately leading to a higher rate of app abandonment. However, with tools like touch heatmaps , unresponsive gestures can — and definitely should — be tracked. This input will help mobile professionals understand how users go about their app. They’ll be able to make their apps more intuitive and user-friendly, offering a better, more enjoyable user experience.