Driving mobile engagement with the two tap rule

Early this year, Marissa Mayer spoke about how Yahoo follows the two tap rule in app development in order to maximize mobile engagement. Subsequently, the community began debating the issue.

Here at Artisan, we believe that the key to achieving success in mobile is to keep your users happy. The two tap rule forces you to better understand and fulfill the needs of your users, creating happier users and more successful apps.

…So what is the “two tap rule?”

The two tap rule means that once a user is in your app, they should be able to do anything that they want without having to tap more than twice.

How can the two tap rule drive mobile engagement?

  • The two tap rule keeps the purpose of your app simple: The two tap rule requires that, like a lighthouse, your app does one thing really well instead of bunch of things poorly. This strategy forces you to research your audience’s needs in order to identify how you can best fulfill them. As tech design usability guru Jakob Nielsen notes, consumers “don’t use your app to admire [your design], they use your app to get things done.
  • The two tap rule increases mobile retention: When consumers encounter a poor mobile app experience, 48% say that they are less likely to use the mobile app. The two tap rule helps ensure that your app does not confuse users and instead seamlessly fulfills their needs over and over again.
  • The two tap rule keeps mobile users happy: Mobile users are on the go. They invite apps into their lives because the apps supplement their experiences with helpful information. The two tap rule ensures that your app does exactly what the user is looking for without bogging them down with junk. Giving your mobile users the information they need as fast as possible will build happiness and loyalty across your user base.

Google creates engaged mobile users in two taps or less

Google has long since dominated mobile with popular and useful apps. When a user opens a Google app, whether it’s Gmail, or Google Maps, they have a specific need that they would like fulfilled. Google quickly fulfills the user’s need and allows them to move on with their day. For example, when a user opens the Gmail app, the goal is likely to view their latest messages. To quickly fulfill this need, Google makes the inbox the app’s default screen, allowing the user do accomplish this task with zero taps. A secondary use case of Gmail is to compose a new message. With a single tap this can be accomplished as well. By keeping apps simple and useful, Google has achieved significant mobile success.

What if you can’t stick to the two tap rule?

Like any rule, it’s ok to break it sometimes. If you can’t stick to the two tap rule for every use case within your app, start by prioritizing your use cases. Most apps have a wide range of functionality, butMayer suggests that 98 percent of people will use an app to accomplish one particular use case…so prioritize that use case in the interface design. Like the shutter button in a photo app, or the pause button in a music player, important use cases should be simple to accomplish. If a less common use case require more than 2 taps, you’re probably still in good shape. In the case of Gmail, it takes 3 taps to get to the “manage accounts” area of the app, which is likely not causing considerable frustration for users.

Building a successful mobile app can be a big challenge. Following the two tap rule can help you stay focused on what’s really important and help you achieve success by keeping your mobile users happy.

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