The challenges of user-friendliness

User-friendliness is quite simple, really. Just make sure that people don’t have to think when using your app. A fairly simple aim, but one that may prove somewhat harder to achieve. How come?

Wanting to cover all possible scenarios

“Yes, but what if someone wants to…”

Even though a scenario may only arise for a minority of users, all users are presented with this extra option. All these additional items mean that it takes the user longer, because he has to read each item, think about it and set it aside in order to continue. Or worse still, people can no longer see the wood for the trees.

TIP: Use figures. Decide from what percentage you consider something an exception. For example: If the scenario is applicable to less than 20% of users, then it is an exception and we decide not to bother the other 80% with it. You then make this option available for the 20% in a different way: for example via a separate flow.

First get the basics right

“That’s what everyone does, isn’t it?”

Often the biggest improvements in your app are hidden on the most commonplace screens. Take the screen where the user creates his password. It’s very frustrating to enter your password, usually twice, and then see that it is not accepted because it does not contain a figure. So you add a figure and then you get a message saying there must be a capital letter, as well. And then a special character, too.

Before you know it, it takes the user three times longer than planned to deal with this step. So you can tell your user these things from the start. Even better, you can simply tick off which conditions his password already meets and which it doesn’t.

And there are lots of simple things like this that can help to make your app more user-friendly. Every little helps.

Specialist jargon and ‘brand language’

“Up your Coins with our Pro Simulator and gain Champ Status”

Difficult words lead to a difficult interface. Use words that the user knows. Each word or each instruction that the user has to think about slows down the app. That goes not only for specialist jargon, but also for marketing words you have invented yourself. A language intended to make your brand stand out from others is usually not all that clear. Simply call a points system a points system and let people earn points, not credits, or coins, or miles — just points.

TIP: Print out all the screens in your app and have them checked by people who aren’t specialists in the field. Give them a thick pen and ask them to mark everything they don’t understand.

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