App Design is Everything

As organizations strive to remain relevant and valuable in today’s mobile-first culture, they must chart a course for mobile member engagement. With a well-designed native mobile app, the paths of technology and communications converge and create a new avenue to increase member satisfaction, foster an active community, and advance your organization’s mission to provide resources and information to your members. The key to staying on course in this mobile journey is design. 

User Experience (UX) -- UX is a tech buzzword because it’s paramount to the success of any app. The UX relies on several factors that are directly related to design:

-  Familiar navigation

-  Quick and reliable usability

-  A pleasing aesthetic

-  Appropriate branding

-  Relevant content

Check these boxes and the app will succeed with users because they will feel good about spending time in the app and will associate relevance and competence with your organization/brand. If your app developers are committed to maintaining industry standards and adapting to consumption trends, the UX will be positive.  

Native vs. Web App -- Whether you have a native or web app matters because the UX will vary greatly. Essentially, native apps are designed specifically for iOS & Android systems (both) and web apps are one-size-fits-all internet-enabled apps written in web code that reside in the cloud. 

Native apps have several benefits:

-  They perform faster

-  They are specific to iOS and Android operating systems, which users expect

-  They are approved by their App Store for functionality elements as well as better user security (check out the Apple Human Interface Guidelinesor Google Play Guidelines)

-  They can directly access device hardware, such as GPS, camera, etc.

Web apps have their drawbacks: 

-  They perform slower

-  They are harder to find because they are not always listed in the App Store

-  There is no standard quality control to ensure functionality or user security 

-  They have difficulty performing well across platforms and devices

Food for thought: No web app has ever made it into the top 100 of most popular apps. Design-wise, native apps offer a better overall user experience. 

Configured vs. Custom – Whether you have a configured app or a custom app matters because experience and proven design and functionality predict success for configured apps. Custom apps can accommodate niche market needs or unique application ideas, but most organizations will thrive with a configured app that is tailored to specific needs.

Configured apps offer many benefits:

-  A timely development window

-  A continual schedule of annual platform updates and upgrades 

-  All future features and adaptations included

-  A cleaner code base 

Custom apps have several drawbacks:

-  Long development cycles

-  Inefficient and irregular updates

-  Higher development prices

-  Expensive one-off upgrades and customized updates are additional $$$

-  Increased potential of bugs

Food for thought: All organizations are unique, but that doesn’t make their mobile needs unique. Using a configured app allows organizations to build on proven design experience and customize functionality without starting from scratch.

Design Drives Engagement, and time-tested tenets say that whether your product is a coffee mug, a car, or a heart monitor, it must work, be easily accessible, provide value and make people feel good or it won’t be successful. The same is true for an app; and if your product is outdated or irrelevant, is vague or hard to find, then it will not be of value.

So, as you navigate the mobile landscape, and try to meet your organization’s and members’ needs, use these guidelines to map a course for success. 

 

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Bridget Wendling

19 June 2019