7 Keys to Developing User-Friendly Software and Apps

When you design and develop apps and software for your customers, few things matter more than user satisfaction. If users don't like interacting with the platform, they aren't going to come back for more. The question is, are you designing user-friendly solutions ? "User experience - UX, for short - is how a person feels when interacting with a digital product. UX encompasses a lot of factors, some that are controllable by designers and developers and some that are environmental or just user preference," designer Carrie Cousins explains. "These factors include usability, accessibility, performance, design/aesthetics, utility, ergonomics, overall human interaction and marketing."

A lot of businesses spend too much time thinking about design and not enough time focusing on the overall experience. While design is part of the larger experience, it runs much deeper. UX is all about usability. How usable is your software or app? That's the question you should be asking yourself. If you're unsure - or acutely aware that UX is poor - then it's time that you do something about it. Aesthetically and functionally, you have to make sure you're developing user-friendly solutions.

Developing User-Friendly Solutions

There's a reason most apps and software solutions aren't very user-friendly. It takes time and effort that most businesses aren't willing to invest. But by committing your team to going the extra mile, you can rise above and create something that's truly meaningful and special. The following tips and suggestions will help:

1. Know Your Audience

It's impossible to develop a user-friendly solution if you don't understand your audience. Developers shouldn't be handed an assignment and told to build an app that does "X." They should actually be involved in the research process so they know who the users are, what pain points they have, and what sort of style they respond to.

2. Keep it Simple

Simple, clean, and minimalistic are words that define today's leading apps and software solutions. When people interact with your app, they don't want to feel stressed or overwhelmed. Instead, they want to feel like they're in control.

For example, the Doodle app is a simple app that's still aesthetically pleasing and highly functional. The user never feels a sense of confusion regarding what to do or where to click. It's all highly intuitive (and this starts with very intentional design).

3. Limit Interruptions

This tip sort of goes hand in hand with the previous one, but you need to limit disruptions as much as you can. For software developers, this means interrupting the user very gently (and only when necessary).

"People hate pop ups because they increase the number of clicks they need to make, and usually distract them from the task at hand," software developer Sam Schutte points out. "Options might be to interrupt the user with dialogs that go away on their own, or error messages 'in line' like a validation error in red that they don't have to click."

4. Offer Everything for One Price

Do you know what people hate? Having to open up their wallets more than once. If you don't care about UX, then go right ahead and include in-app purchases or "premium" features in a piece of software that users have already paid for. If you do care about UX, offer everything for one price.

Think of your platform like an all-inclusive resort. It's not free, but once you pay you gain access to whatever you want.

Humanity's employee scheduling software is a great example of a software solution that includes everything in the price with no extra charges or in-app purchases. The all-inclusive approach works for them because users know exactly what they're getting from the start. There are no disappointments.

5. Present Self-Help Content

No matter how intuitive a solution is, there will always be scenarios in which users have trouble understanding a certain aspect of it. There will also be issues that commonly pop up and need to be solved. Instead of requiring users to call you or type out an email, you can make your solution more user-friendly by presenting self-help content.

A simple self-help tab within the design of the platform can give users quick access to information that might solve their problems more efficiently than having to exit the app and go through the process of contacting support.

6. Study and Monitor User Behavior

Doing your audience research on the front end is great, but you can't stop there. Once you develop the app or software, seek out ways to understand how your audience is actually using and interacting with it. This can be done a number of ways, but a special tool - like Flurry Analytics - can make the process of gathering and analyzing usage data a breeze.

7. Offer Frequent Updates

Understanding how people are using your platform is one thing - but acting on the results is another thing. Be sure to offer frequent updates and patches to deal with common points of friction or implement more user-friendly features. Not only does this keep users happy and engaged, but it also shows your commitment to user satisfaction.

Put Your Software or App Over the Top

"User experience is an art form of its own. You never can predict for certain how your site or app will be perceived," Cousins explains. "What you can do is arm yourself with the tools to make informed decisions about UX in the design process."

Hopefully, the tips and techniques outlined in this article will help you understand how to leverage the keys to user-friendly software and apps. Whether it's an idea you're hoping to develop into an app in the future, or an existing software platform that's underperforming, there's never been a better time to take action.