As our smartphones and mobile devices become more and more present in every part of our lives, mobile apps become more relevant by the day. From entertainment to shopping, from getting us organized to predicting the weather, app stores are increasingly crowded with competing products, no matter how narrow the niche. With so many options to choose from, user experience is paramount: can first-time users navigate your app and accomplish tasks easily? If not, you may find yourself left in the dust as users migrate elsewhere in search of a more straightforward app.
Too many app designers are incapable of seeing their products through their users’ eyes. It can be easy to forget that it doesn’t matter if an app has incredible features if users can’t find them. And while it may seem like incorporating as many features and options as you can will make your app richer and more appealing to users, a plethora of choices is not always better. Too many options and screens to wind through may serve to do nothing more than confuse and alienate users, leaving them feeling further and further away from whatever goal they had hoped to achieve by accessing your app in the first place.
Thankfully, linear UX design presents an alternative to leaving your users overwhelmed and underserved. Linear design provides a guided experience for users, ushering them towards their goals in a frictionless way. A helpful way to conceive of linear design is to liken it to a good video game environment: users should have clear goals and an obvious path to those goals, with clues and tips that help them accomplish any necessary tasks along the way. Many designers work backwards to determine the best possible user journeys, determining end goals first and reverse-engineering the individual steps of a journey all the way back to onboarding.
The process, however, can be deceptively tricky. While simplifying user experiences may sound straightforward, finding the ideal mix of technology and design to make the most of your app requires both skill and experience. When you work with a mobile app developer you trust, you are better able to take your app to the next level — and companies that specialize in mobile apps will understand just how vital user experiences are.
The right company will aim to create user experiences with beginnings, middles, and ends, where users can complete an action at each step of the process. By streamlining the UX, they strip the user journey of unnecessary steps that only aggravate or distract users, which allows the app’s true purpose and value to shine.
To draw one more illustrative metaphor: imagine your app as a garden path. Properly designed, it can be an enjoyable walk that leads users to a particular destination. If it’s poorly designed, though, it can turn into a labyrinth that leaves users disoriented and makes them abandon it before they ever get where you wanted them to go in the first place. When you design a mobile app, make sure that your users aren’t getting lost — consider linear design, and simplify your user journeys.