Improving a UI with customer feedback
In 2017, I had the opportunity to take over mobile design for 15 apps that reached over 225,000 event-goers. This helped drive engagement metrics 3x higher and doubled customer satisfaction with mobile apps.
As a product manager, I was helping promote a group of mobile apps that I didn't feel were living up to their potential. User engagement was relatively low and user feedback through our satisfaction surveys was lower than any other digital element of our events.
I attended three events and talked directly with 60 attendees. Throughout these conversations, a common theme was that the app was a little "busy"—especially in an environment of sensory overload.
Additionally, they asked about specific features that were difficult for them to find. These features were sometimes right on the main menu, but branded names caused confusion. Other times, these features weren't found because of the cluttered menu.
To validate these claims, I took a look at the data to understand how users were interacting with our digital tools across a variety of devices. What they told me checked out.
I collaborated with our graphic design, marketing, and development teams to implement the first stage of improvements. Our initial approach consisted of a very simplistic menu. Stripping away all photos and replacing the menu items with just text.
While this technically achieved the goals we set based on our user feedback, the menus were bland. Our apps weren't exclusively used during events, as users tend to plan in the weeks prior. This meant we needed a balance between the ultra-usable text-only approach and the hyper-visual menu of the past.
The text-only version was in commission for a few events. It did well, but (as predicted) we still weren’t seeing any improvements in satisfaction scores. App store reviews were mixed and it was clear that we weren't delighting our users. It also became difficult to generate enthusiasm around something that looked like a settings menu.
Adding visual elements
After some exploration and testing with our design & development teams, I arrived on the solution of adding icons & making the colors more consistent throughout the interface. I also added a visual element at the top of the menus to promote the highlighted feature of each app. This gave each event team an opportunity to showcase what they thought would be the most important feature for their users. Last, to solve the issue of users not understanding some of the menu items with branded names, I added descriptions to each item to provide a brief explanation.
Note: this likely wouldn’t be a realistic solution for apps that are used on a regular basis. Event apps are almost exclusively used for 3–7 days per year and attendee turnover can vary. This means we have lower retention rates than normal and a whole year has passed since the app was last used. As a result, a learning curve is not an option for our users. My goal was to make them as close to native as possible and stripping back the UI to make them easy to understand immediately. Additionally, descriptions help onboard users by acting as an ever-present tutorial of sorts in a very busy environment.
Across ten mobile apps, UX improvements helped grow views by more than double, while nearly doubling user engagement and satisfaction.
Of course, not every user issue was solved, but I continue to work with key stakeholders, dig through research and data, and talk with users to understand how we can continue improving the digital experience.