The Good and The “not-so” Good in App Design

Credit: Erin Meekhof

Design is both art and science. Often times, when the concept of design is being discussed, the aesthetics of the particular design will take centre stage. However, the functionality and the usability of the design should be equality weighted.

Let’s look at 3 specific app interface and understand the dynamics between art and function and how these apps can improve their overall experience.

  1. Buses

The Good

The usability of this app is extremely simple. Just tap on the bus number and it will display the timings of oncoming bus as well as the subsequent bus. The use of location services also reduces the users’ need to find the particular bus stop in their location (although they can search if they want to do so. The “i” button also allows users to view the bus stops that the bus will be covering.

This app is the concept of simplicity at it’s finest. There’s no need for complicated built-in maps or location pins to find your nearest bus stops. The user flow of this app is so bare that it is “mindless” to learn how to use it. There is also not a need for someone to have adequate English knowledge in order to learn on how to use the app.

The “not-so’ Good

The app is un-aesthetically pleasant to look at. The use of “square-like” tiles to fit in the bus numbers do help the whole usability of the app. However, the use of the colours, fonts and the tone of the app does not seem to congruently relate with each other. More importantly, the whole look of the app looks amateurish, something that was not given much though. This could lead to the perception that the app is not as reliable or functional as the other apps in the market.

2. Honestbee

The Good

For a business that does an extremely varied range of services, it definitely tough to structure an app that can cater to all these services and still maintain the overall look and feel of the brand. Honestbee does well by using icons to display their range of services instead of the usual “tile images” that is commonly used by many apps these days. The use of icons allows users to simply scroll through once or twice, compared to tiles where the users have to go through endless scrolls in order to see the services that they want

The “not-so” Good

There are occasions when users were unable to head back to their main page or find the “back” button to head back to the previous page (see image 3). There was not any other option but to kill the app and restart it in order to view all the options on the main menu again. This frustrates users if they were just planning to explore the services that Honestbee is offering.

3. Calm

The Good

This app is extremely good looking. The whole look and feel of the app is amazing and it does its job in setting the tone for users to relax. The images used as the background and images of the tiles are visually pleasing and it reflects the whole tone that the app is trying to portray. It is also relatively easy to navigate through the whole app with the use of “3 distinct main icon — Breathe, Meditate and Sleep”.

The “not-so” Good

The images can be too salient for users and this could defeat the whole purpose of the app — to make people feel calm. The use of too many colours and too many moving visuals could end up distract users for their actually purpose of using the app.

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