The Secret to Great Apps is User Input

User FeedbackIn last year’s Outside In Awards presented by Forrester, the analyst firm honored two companies for good app design and overall development process. Why were these two applications chosen? They both embraced a high level of user input and feedback and saw great results from their efforts.

Ally Bank conceived of and launched a mobile app on a tight timeline and PwC Australia updated their intranet to make it more usable for today’s employees. Both projects started with a brainstorming session that involved employees and checked in with key stakeholders and end users throughout the project. Asking end users for input at the beginning of the process meant both companies started on the right path rather then spending time and energy on efforts that ultimately don’t fit user needs. From CMS Wire:

Although the successful projects were very different, they both utilized “nearly identical” steps, including research into what the customer wanted, utilization of personas, iterative prototyping and iterative testing. But a key, overarching consistency was that both organizations used feedback from customers and stakeholders throughout the various iterations. …

In the Ally project, customer feedback was solicited and incorporated at four specific steps in the design. The initial customer testing was conducted informally with sketches and paper prototypes, followed by formal prototype testing. …

The cross-departmental UX team at PwC also started with a two-day session, utilizing brainstorming techniques that it offers to clients to help design creative solutions to the business challenge at hand. To gain buy-in from employees and other end-users, the team created an even larger workshop, “a physical space where end users and stakeholders could create and give depth to personas using photos, screen shots and sticky notes.”

Some of PwC Australia’s clients and 6,000 employees were involved in both the kickoff session and the workshop, and then a roadshow was created to demonstrate and elicit feedback throughout the company about the developing intranet.

A continuous dedication to testing throughout the process ensured both companies remained on the right track and ultimately helped them create applications that worked and that users actually wanted to use. Within a month of launching its mobile app, Ally sees 70% of eCheck deposits being made via the new app. PwC saw “mproved access to information, faster workflow and a collaboration tool that now supports more than 1,000 project teams,” plus a 25% reduction in email volume.

When designing an app – whether for mobile, desktop or web – its vital to remember who will be using this app everyday. Thinking from the perspective of an end user, or even better, getting actual user input throughout the process can help ensure you create an app that will be useful and that users actually want. And input shouldn’t stop once your app is launched. When your application goes live you can tap into a treasure trove of real user feedback via social media sentiment, comment sections and app store ratings and reviews. Take these to heart as your continue refining and improving your application.

You can create a beautiful, awesome app, but if your users don’t see a need for it or think it’s overly complicated, they won’t open it and your efforts will be wasted.

  • This is very true – and I believe there should be even more effort taken into feedback encouragement.
    Very few customers (well apart for the occasional tester who happens to care for that specific site/app), will take the effort to even consider sending feedback.
    When we as testers say that only X% of bugs returned from the field – its the X% who cared enough to take the effort… – probably there’s an additional ~90% or more of those who faced bugs who just moved to another product.
    We must encourage feedback by any means we can – minimum is a clear feedback link, hopefully we will also reply to encourage more feedback, and preferably we will ACTIVELY ask for feedback using some non-intrusive polls here and then.

    @halperinko – Kobi Halperin

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