4 Tips for Building a “Human” App: The Finer Nuances of UX

The BTC Team

Applications these days can do things that we had only imagined years ago. With the onslaught of novel features provided by leading mobile platforms and a good deal of mobile hardware to match, there are new kinds of apps taking our lives by storm that can incorporate habits defined by lifestyles and social context.

As app makers, we have a collective responsibility to ensure that we develop applications that lead to better lives and encourage positive active and passive behaviors in users.

This stems from the app inducing a feel-good factor in the user (also a part of good UX) and encouraging them to achieve their goals associated with the app.

When an app resonates with a person and makes her feel like it’s a part of her journey to a goal, that’s when an excellent UX (User Experience) has been achieved.

Now, the goal doesn’t always have to be something lofty – It can be something simple that your app helps the user do. (For example, it can help them find songs that they like from a massive music library.) However, to truly be successful, your app must be able to understand the user’s tastes and make suggestions accordingly.

Having an app establish a “human connect” with your user is vital if you want them to rely on it. With the kind of technology available today, it’s getting easier to build in features that make people feel that the app “understands” them.

So how do you make your app bring about a human connection in a subtle way? Here are four tips to consider:

1. Show Empathy

Your app should reflect that you understand your target audience. If it helps them practice meditation, you should expect that new users will tend to wander away mentally. Provide a mechanism that steers them back to the app. It could be a simple voiceover or subtle vibration alert that checks how they are doing and brings their attention back to focus.

2. Motivate

Motivate users so they will come back to the app to accomplish their goals. There are several ways you can do this.

  • Incorporate progress charts.
  • Express positive feedback on actions and recorded data.
  • Say something encouraging when the day’s goals aren’t met.
  • Once the desired level is accomplished, show them the next possible level they can achieve.

The mechanism you use could be based on what your app does. But make sure it motivates people to come back, retry, and complete tasks.

3. Make Outcomes Apparent

People like to see the fruits of their labor. The same is true for using the app.

While it’s up to people to experience the benefits of your app, it does help them mentally register benefits better if you make them more apparent.

For example, if you have a fitness app, and you’ve recorded that, over time, the person can sustain a longer duration of intense exercise, you should make this apparent on the app.

It’s wonderful to see tangible results from our efforts, and providing this information to users will help you strike a chord with them.

4. Provide a Sense of Community

Allow people to share their results from using the app on social media and through other means such as email or SMS. They can let other app users know how they’ve fared and learn how they managed with the app.

This will give them a sense of belonging to the app’s user community. It also helps because people often guide others with tips on getting the most out of the app.

Community “buzz” keeps users more engaged with the app and app developers. Accept constructive criticism in the right spirit and welcome the involvement of users to make your app better. More often than not, this paves the way for impressive enhancements and improvements in the app.

5. Go The Extra Mile

And finally, what is your app doing that wasn’t done by the other apps out there?

  • Is it “human” enough to know when the user is tired or sad?
  • Is it intelligent enough to predict behavior based on the user’s contextual factors?
  • Can you rely on the app to provide the best advice when your friend isn’t reachable?

These are extra things to consider. Apps can never be totally human, but in a world where users are increasingly getting things done on their mobile devices the more of a “human” your app seems, the more popular it will be.

They say the process of evolution is constant, and this statement couldn’t be closer to the truth for mobile apps!


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