Discover 6 tips to build a web app that users love. And massively improve their experience.
“Designing Web software is different than designing websites. If you approach both the same way your software will be painful to use.” — Nathan Berry (Founder of ConvertKit)
Are you an entrepreneur, business owner or developer scratching your head and wondering how to build a web app that users will love?
You don’t want users to signup and then leave and never come back. Not just another crap piece of software built by a cheap team for a couple hundred dollars.
Here are 6 tips that will help you build a great web app gives users an effortless experience.
What’s at stake?
A better experience could mean more revenue. 💰
It could also mean better testimonials. Or less stress for the support team. Or it could save users time.
So let’s get started! 🚀
1. Respond. Never leave the user in doubt.
As a developer, I am amazed at how many UX “experts” and developers forget that users expect their actions to generate responses — even if they’re offline.
When they click on a button something should happen — even if their internet just dropped.
Many developers test the web app in a perfect environment.
They use a fast, fiber optic connection. Enough CPU and RAM to fire their boss. And jumbo, high resolution screens.
They forget that many users have a cheap Moto phone or an HP laptop with a slower DSL connection. Or even worse, an unstable wireless connection. The web app might respond quickly to a developer’s click but not for others.
That’s why a great web app will have loading spinners and visual cues that tell the user what’s happening. The simple thing of changing a “Save” button to “Saving…” when it’s clicked will go a long way.
I also shared an article on Medium on how to code a loading spinner and add it to buttons that got multiple claps. Feel free to check it out here.
2. Never lose user data. Ever.
Any data that is ever collected or saved should never be lost. Unless we’re talking about credit card data. In that case integrate a service like PayPal and let them deal with the liability.
One of the most disgusting things that can happen to users is to lose connectivity when filling out lengthy forms online. And what a relief to discover that when I refresh the page all the information that I had previously entered was saved!
One way to combat this issue is to implement an auto-save option. Gmail does this brilliantly. First they have an explicit save button. This allows the user to save anytime there are unsaved changes. Second, the save button is disabled if there aren’t any changes to save and it becomes clickable as there are new unsaved changes. And finally, Gmail uses a simple text, “Draft saved at 9:23 AM (3 minutes ago).”
Well done Gmail! 👏
3. Save stress with an undo option.
If your web app does not have an undo option then consider adding this feature soon. Every web app built by Google (Google Docs, Google Keep, etc…) has an undo option or recycle bin of some kind.
Speaking of undo options reminds me of a hosting company I used to work with. They hosted a website of mine.
And yes, you guessed it. I screwed the website — like badly. The home page just showed a harsh server error… and I was losing sales.
I had two options. I could spend hours rebuilding it. Or I could have them undo my mistakes and revert to the “un-screwed” website. After some quick emailing back and forth with their support team they reverted the website and saved my day.
If you’re sharp you noticed that I said I used to work with them. And that’s exactly right. I left them because their control panel didn’t have the option to let me do the reverting without going through all the hassle of contacting them which leads me to the next tip.
4. Be cautious with options. They might dizzy some and impress others.
In the last tip I shared a story about a broken website and the hosting company I dumped (scroll back up if you missed it).
The reason I left them was because the control panel didn’t have near all the options that I needed AND wanted. In fact, I hope that someday the CEO of that hosting company will lay his hands on this awesome guide. I could help him 10x his sales and impress more clients.
Here’s the catch. Some people LOVE lots of options. It makes them feel powerful. Others HATE lots of options. It confuses them.
When designing a web app you may not forget the likes and dis-likes of the people that will be using it. Are the people that will be using it techy nerds? Then give them as many options as they will want.
If it’s going to be used by elderly people make sure to keep things extremely simple. The fewer options the better.
As a general rule of thumb geeks and some introverts love LOTS of options. Non-techies love minimalism.
You could also allow users to choose between a simple and advanced version of your web app like Mailchimp’s administration panel.
5. Design for repeat use.
A static website is often visited just a few times by most people. Or sometimes more frequently depending on the content.
A web app is different. It can be visited dozens of times every day meaning it must be designed for efficiency.
Users want to be able to do things fast. No extra clicks. No extra waiting. Especially when others are waiting on them.
Developers are supposed to look for bugs that break the application. I argue that any extra steps that make the user’s life harder should be considered a software bug.
6. You forgot emotion? Forget profit. 💰
Your web app must be designed with heavy consideration to users emotion.
No, I am not talking about fancy logos, pretty fonts and all that other stuff. Although they do have their place.
I am talking about the feelings the user experiences when using your web app. As they use it all kinds of questions are running through their heads:
- “Why is this taking so long?”
- “What’s wrong with this text box?”
- “Did it save?”
- “I click on delete and nothing happened!?”
It’s these emotions that determine what others think of your application. And if these questions are not being answered properly many users will become anxious. They don’t want their hard work to be lost. They want to be assured that everything is working as expected.
Give serious consideration to the user’s emotions while designing your web application and they will be able to get work done without feeling confused and frustrated. Now you have the kind of web app that they will recommend to friends and co-workers.
Last of all…
I’ve packed this entire guide into a beautiful 8-page PDF and want to give it to you for free.
You can download it here.
I hope you found this short article helpful. Please give it more energy by clicking that 👏 button . Thank-you!
And feel free to checkout some of these other awesome articles about Angular that you might have missed.