“People’s behavior makes sense if you think about it in terms of their goals, needs, and motives.” – Thomas Mann
As Thomas Mann wrote nearly 75 years ago, it’s easy to predict human behavior, once you know what someone’s goals, needs and motives are. In terms of your app, these are three simple questions to answer once you give it a little careful thought.
Follow this guide below, and by the end you will know how to improve 90% of the useability problems in your mobile application.
Once you’ve identified your Perfect User’s motives you’ll know how much time s/he’s willing to spend with your app. This is critical to knowing just how complicated and feature-rich you can make it. The more complex an app, the longer it will take the user to learn it, and the longer it will take them to reach their goal.
Start by answering these questions:
- What is motivating your perfect user to use your app? Why did they pick this app instead of the many others? (e.g. beautiful visuals, rave reviews, it was free?)
- Is your perfect user looking for a tool, an answer or a solution to a problem? If yes, then they are probably looking for a Fast solution, and your UI should be very simple with limited features.
- Can your perfect user take his/her time and learn the interface, such as with complicated drawing/painting app? If yes, then your users are likely looking for a Slower solution. They feel they can spend the time to learn a more complex UI and will value a rich feature set.
- Or, is your perfect user looking for entertainment, as with a game or audio/video? If yes, then s/he is willing to invest plenty of time on an On-going basis to play and explore a UI that changes, surprises and intrigues.
What result is your perfect user after? If your app is a tool, then the user likely wants the answer to a question, solve a problem, or perform a task. If your app is entertainment, then they want to be engaged and surprised. Answer these questions:
- What does your perfect user need to do in order to reach his/her goal?
- Can s/he see what to do on the very first screen?
- Can s/her follow a clear path to the desired end result?
- Is there anything (like an ad or a paywall) that blocks that path to his/her desired end result?
- If yes, how big a block? Will more than 40% of your users quit because of the block?
- If yes, you should re-evaluate what business goals you accomplish vs what users you will lose.
Finally, now that you know how long your perfect user is likely to spend with your app (Fast, Slow, Ongoing) and what the user needs to accomplish, you can figure out what their overall goals are in using your app. Answer these questions:
- What is the end result your user is after? To upload a file while sitting at a coffee shop? To take, edit and send a picture to their Facebook page while at their child’s kindergarten? To entertain themselves while waiting for the movie to start?
- What are your goals? To sell ad space, to sell more apps, to provide added value for your website?
Now that you understand how long a user wants to spend in any session on your app, and what they want to accomplish with it, and how simple (or complicated) accomplishing that task is, you can make critical design decisions that will greatly improve your customers’ satisfaction.
Ask yourself if yours and your user’s goals are in harmony or at odds? When goals are at odds, you risk losing users who are constantly frustrated by interruptions and blocks in their flow to the goal. Your task is to balance your goals with your users. Do the math: how many users can you lose before the revenue from advertising no longer offsets the loss of a broad user base?
If you’re at a critical balancing point, is there a way to align them better? Can you offer an ad-free subscription solution to customers who hate ads? Can you change the frequency, size or placement of ads? Can you create an incentive for users to look at ads?
Always remember, that if the user doesn’t like what they see, another app is just a tap away.