User goals and your app

August 1, 2013

Think about user goals and put yourself in their shoes. Provide usable and useful content.

Defining user goals before creating an app is key. Creating an app just because other organisations have them is not the way to go about it: it’s important to think clearly about who your users are and what they want to achieve from your app. So why is it important to consider user goals? Not considering user goals can leave users frustrated and can lead to app abandonment, loss of a sale or potentially damage your brand. Careful consideration up front with greater focus on the user and their goals is likely to keep users engaged in your app.

There are numerous examples of apps that fail to meet user expectations. Take the Met Office app (v 1.1); user goals are to 1) see the weather forecast in the user’s current location for the next few days 2) find out the weather now in another location and the forecast for the next few days and 3) have the ability to save a number of favourite locations. In reality, users are able to access the weather forecasts but are not able to save a number of favourite locations. It is also unclear why users would want the data icon which provides radar and satellite imagery.

As for the Hilton app (v1.0), our testers wanted to be able to access their existing reservation. However, if a reservation is made via the UK site, it cannot be accessed on this app. The app directs users to their .com site.

Examples in retail include Mango, the Spanish clothes retailer and Very. With the Mango app (v3.1) testers had difficulty in removing items from their basket, leaving users frustrated and not wanting to purchase from the app. With the Very fashion app (v1.2), testers were forced to create an account before purchasing items; again causing great frustration.

Consider who your users are and what they want to achieve from your app. Define user goals up front, during the initial stages of planning and prototyping. Don’t leave this until later in the process. Once the user goals have been defined and you have initial ideas in place, always user test – the earlier the better. This will often save time and money in the long run.