After the webinar The Intersection of Agile Product and User-Centered Design Methodologies with Kate Valdes (@k8valdes), I thought about the importance of UX and how we, as testers, need to increase our value, especially on an agile team with everyone wearing multiple hats. Many small to medium-size companies may not have a full-time UX designer on staff, so in some cases it may be up to testers to ensure the overall quality, which can include UX. Good mobile UX design and testing depends on remembering some basic principles:
- Task Ease: Your app needs to be effective and efficient for the user to get done what they want and what you want. This means you may have to pare it down using the 80/20 rule, as 80 percent of your users will mostly use only 20 percent of your app. What is that 20%? Figure that out, and then make it easy for them to do that. Then add other functions. If your goal is to make purchasing easy, then focus on that only. Define your goals, then craft your workflow based on your target user group.
- Usability: Most people say this means “easy to use,” but what does that mean? Define what usability means to you and develop guidelines for your app and/or your organization. This could include elements such as color schemes, button distances, button sizes, when to use different navigation schemes, etc . . . Above all, make it simple. If users get confused, they’ll abandon.
- Indicators: Users need to understand what the app will do beforehand via clues you give them. Your UI elements should be consistent and predictive, showing the user what can and will be done (if they click on that button/link) for each screen. Hyperlinked text, for example, indicates that the user will be taken elsewhere. Use UI elements as indicators to help your user master your application quickly, yet without memorization.
- Learnability: I’ve said it many times before. “If your users can’t figure out how to use your app in 30 seconds or less, they’re gone.” Your interface must be instinctive and easy to learn. Use familiar patterns from other apps that your target user group may be accustomed to. Don’t build a new UI paradigm. What you create may be better, but harder to learn and use.
- Feedback: Let your users know the status of the task they are trying to complete. This means if you want them to wait, tell them. If they are only partly done, tell them where they are and how far they have to go.
Good Mobile UX Design and Testing does not require rocket science or artistic skills. It just takes remembering these basic principles, and then you can set out and evaluate an app.