You built an app, it’s great, but still, there’s something missing. You’re not getting the user engagement you had hoped for. The good news is, you don’t need to spend a whole lot of time and money trying to boost your numbers, all you need to do is take your existing app and test out a few design changes. A lot of the time it’s small tweaks in design that can really transform your app and boost user engagement. Before you start overhauling the design and making plans to build the next big thing, remember to keep it simple. Don’t waste a lot of time tweaking too many pieces at once. Not only will it be a nightmare to measure which changes have proved successful, it will take too long — too long to design, too long to implement, and too long to test. Test quicker, faster, smaller things and you can make better design decisions.
Case in point, here’s what happened at Flud. When we launched Flud 2.0 in December 2011, everything seemed great from the outside. People were downloading the app, reading articles and adding sources, but we were expecting more in app engagement as well as more engagement with the Flud Stream and Flud 2.0’s most important social feature — the Activity Stream. Before our launch, we set a benchmark. We wanted x number of users to open the app y number of times, read z number of articles and influence i number of users. When we didn’t reach that benchmark we asked ourselves what was wrong — why weren’t we getting engagement we wanted?
We mapped out two hypotheses for what was standing in our way of reaching our benchmark and tested two simple design solutions we thought would fix the problem. The first obstacle was that the tiles displaying article headlines were too small, making them hard to read, so we made the tiles bigger. The second was that the Activity Stream and Flud Stream were hidden inside users’ profiles, making them too hard to reach. It took a user three clicks to access these streams, so we moved them to the homepage where they are the first thing a user sees when they open Flud –taking accessibility from three clicks to zero clicks.
These two simple design changes boosted our engagement like crazy. The proof is in the chart above. Yes that’s the real chart with the real jump in engagement. It’s not brain surgery, but being smart with your design will determine if your app fails or succeeds.
So how can you make this happen? Start with data. Make sure you use established data and analytic tracking products like Apsolar or Flurry in your application. They’re very simple to implement and will make all the difference when trying to track your progress. Secondly, set benchmarks before hand. It’s OK to be aggressive. Choose numbers you’ll be ecstatic about. Don’t settle for something you know you’ll reach. Lastly, determine your key aspirations. What are goals? If you’re a travel app maybe you want to increase bookings so you make the “Book Now” bigger or change the color. If you’re a location-based restaurant app, maybe you want your users to run more searches, so look at things like how easy is it to find your search bar or how quickly can your user scan results in order to make a decision. If you’re a photo sharing app and you want more uploads, consider the steps it takes to find the share buttons. Are they hidden in a menu or do they automatically pop-up when a new picture is taken? Little things like these change your application drastically and help you reach your engagement goals. After all, that’s why you built the app, right?
Its too easy to second-guess many decisions you make when you design anything. Even the best designers in the world don’t get it right the first time, they rarely get it right the second time, and most need four or five iterations to hit the spot. Final note, as the wisest in our industry would agree – iterate quicker and fail faster.