Modern UI – UX is King!

That user experience (UX) and usability of apps is important is probably nothing new to most of us, hopefully. More and more focus is put on a great design and user experience when it comes to app development. So why is UX so important and how can we improve our performance and user experience in our applications?

So isn’t it enough just to develop an app that solves all the users needs?

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Well it might, although users are becoming more and more aware of design, usability and structure in app usage, especially when it comes to consumer apps. Although the same goes for business apps, the requirement for a perfect UX is not as high as it is for a consumer app, that is at least my experience.

We are often experts in using new technologies and platforms but not so good at design. Many businesses invest in branding their application to add their flavor and feel to it, but too often without having a meaningful user experience. We are adding design for the sake of designing, and not thinking about what the users really need, how they feel, thinks or acts when using your application.

At my current company we use a tagline, “Useful, usable and beautiful”.

Useful

First of all the app needs to be useful, it needs to integrate business-value and user-value successfully into the experience. Don’t add functionality just because you can, you should have a good reason why you add it. To much functionality (if not designed properly) will drive the app to be un-useful.

Usable

Make sure the app is usable with all the functionality that you have selected to have. Design an intuitive and logic interaction model specific for the user and device. The experience on a Windows Phone, with respect to screen size etc. is totally different than it is on a web site browsing on your PC.

Beautiful

Let’s face it, we all enjoy using a beautiful application. But making the app beautiful means that you need to bridge an emotional connection between the user and brands via digital channels.

Most of us who develop apps for Windows Phone know about Modern UI (a.k.a. Metro) design (if not you should definitely read about it, perhaps these articles at MSDN is a good start) and follow it pretty good, at least I see more and more apps where the designers have really thought about Modern UI design. We have a good understanding of what frameworks to use to make the app development rapid and good. Although an app that doesn’t look good and have a good user experience will probably not get good feedback and reviews no matter how useful the app is, while an app with limited functionality that looks extremely good and is easy to use, will get top reviews and feedback.

This phenomena is due to that users are really aware of what is beautiful and what is good user experience, even if the users have no clue of how to design or create an app that has all of that. It’s something conscious. But if the performance in your app is bad, it takes time to start, you don’t have enough feedback to the user when something is happening, it’s jerky and doesn’t always seem to respond to user interaction, in these cases it doesn’t matter how cool or good looking your app is, it will still get bad reviews and eventually not be used at all.

The emotion/feeling of how well your app performs is key, Remember UX is King! If you can trick the user into believing that your app performs well, then do it!

My next post will be about some performance best practices I follow when implementing Silverlight apps for Windows Phone.

Happy coding!

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