Chapter 6: Usability and Comprehension

Specific and app-wide design decisions can be critical for ensuring a good user experience. Use these principles to design an app that caters to users’ needs.

21. Speak the same language as your users.

Unknown terms or phrases will increase cognitive load for the user. When calls to action are labeled with brand-specific terms, users may get confused. Clear communication and functionality should always take precedence over promoting the brand message.

22. Provide text labels and visual keys to clarify visual information.

Visuals and iconography need text labels for consistent and proper interpretation. In our research, we found that icons for a menu, cart, account, or store locator as well as for actions like filtering or sorting are not universal and not well understood across apps. Icons that are labeled are much more likely to be used. Also, apps that provide visual categorizations without a key require users to guess what they represent. Make sure to include a key to reduce confusion and keep users on task.

23. Be responsive with visual feedback after significant actions.

When users add an item to the cart or submit an order, lack of feedback can cause them to question whether the action has been processed. Apps that provide a visual animation or another type of visual eliminate this guesswork for the user.

24. Let the user control the level of zoom.

Users want to be able to control the level of zoom when they view an image. They can become frustrated by apps that zoom in at a predetermined magnification level. In particular, we see instances of this when the zoomed-in view forces the user to look at a specific part of the item or takes the image partially off-screen. Put users in control by allowing them to zoom in as they prefer.

25. Ask for permissions in-context.

Users can get stuck in a task when they deny permissions integral to the app’s proper functioning. To mitigate this, apps should ask for permissions in context and communicate the value the access will provide. Users are more likely to grant permission if asked during a relevant task.

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