Creating a positive mobile app experience comes down to three things: efficiency, relevance, and pure value. But how? Testing, testing, and testing some more. Adopting this iterative approach is critical—as is digging deeper to unearth testing diamonds in the rough.
More often than not, achieving meaningful success isn’t about testing the green button versus the blue button. Instead, it’s about working through those critical sections of your app to determine what makes users’ lives easier—at least while they are in your app experience—and what has true value for this audience. These seven testing ideas are great places to start. And don’t forget to construct these tests with your key business goals in mind.
An app user’s journey starts the minute he or she opens the app. That first experience is critical. Test the app onboarding design—the number of fields for entry, the necessary fields for entry, social plugins as options to streamline logins, and any other initial steps you’ve integrated—to help determine the best way to onboard users. Maybe you are asking for more information than an app user feels is needed. Maybe the social plugins feel too commitment-heavy. Maybe it simply takes too many screens or steps to complete: three screens with one step each vs. one screen with a three-step sequence. Testing that process can make a big difference in the overall user experience.
And what about that first interaction once onboarded? Does the user instantly know what to do? You should err on the side of caution, providing first-time users with some initial directions on the home screen, and test variations (e.g., informative pop-ups that can be closed vs. highlighting features vs. directions to swipe through) to see which most often results in app users’ engagements.
2. Screen Flow
Screen flow can be an enormous indicator in a user’s path to conversion. Let’s say you’re a retailer, and your goal is to drive purchases. From the moment app users log on until the moment they checkout, they are part of your purchase funnel. How can you streamline the process? And what do those individual interactions look like along the way? There are critical interactions in your app to optimize for increased conversion:
- Home-screen design: Category tiles? Current offers? Recently viewed items?
- Navigation design: Hamburger menu or displayed buttons?
- In-app search design: Dynamic bar that opens once the icon is clicked or a persistent bar?
- Catalog or item display: One item at a time versus three—or more? By review rank, sales rank, or user relevance?
- Product-detail page: How much product detail to display? Should you show applicable deals, and if so, which ones? Placement of the buy button? And yes, go ahead, test its color while you are at it too!
- Checkout process: Simple one-click process? If not logged in, how many additional steps to complete purchase?
Now, I stuck with the retail example, but similar opportunities apply to other business and app types. Determining the most conducive path to conversion, and adjusting your screen flow to optimize against these key learnings, can improve virtually any app in any industry with any conversion-centric goal—be it a purchase, share, opt-in, or something entirely different.
3. App Features
If you’ve spent time and resources developing a specific app feature you believe is critical to continued user engagement, testing is key to successful user discovery and adoption. For instance, one of my go-to coffee shops rolled out a post app-order tipping feature and highlighted it on the “Order Complete” screen. Great idea, right? I think so too. But, I haven’t used it to date simply because I don’t know how. After clicking around, attempting to figure it out, I have just resorted to tipping my java masters the old-fashioned way.
Testing helps ensure features in your apps are valuable for your users and right for your business. For instance, a leading car services company identified through analytics that if a customer didn’t add a vehicle to the virtual garage in app, his or her engagement fell off a cliff. Perhaps the navigation to and the purpose of the feature—and thus, the value of the app itself—was unclear. So the company tested screen flow variations and messaging variations to see whether a different virtual-garage experience would matter—and it sure did. Not only did it determine the right experience that yielded a 9% lift in conversion, it also unearthed other iterative test opportunities to maximize user engagement and customer conversion between car purchases over time.
4. Payment Processes
If you’re an app that drives sales or subscriptions—or that accepts payments for any reason—testing your payment processes can deliver significant value. Adobe client Ancestry.com offers in-app subscription purchases and sought to increase revenue from itsapps. In the Android app, it provided two payment options: a native, one-click Google Pay option and an option that launched a mobile-web payment page within the app.
Its initial assumption was that the Google Pay option would outperform the mobile web-based option. It decided to verify through testing, and while the Google Pay option did drive more paid subscriptions, the mobile web payment option drove 50% more revenue with subscriptions at a much higher average-order value (AOV). This enabled the marketers to redesign the payment experience, maximizing overall conversions and in-app revenue in a big way—a major win from what initially seemed like a minor test.
5. In-App Campaigns
Just like you do on your website, testing campaign copy in your app is imperative. Using the same copy and design from your site may not yield the same conversion result, and testing is a surefire way to determine what kind of message will. Consider testing everything to see not only what speaks to your audience, but also whether there are ways to optimize placement, size, or offer presented to benefit those users as well as your brand. One of our financial-services clients wanted to increase app engagement from its credit card rewards members after bill payment. By running a simple A/B test placed at the bottom of the payment-confirmation page—“Explore membership” vs. “Check out your membership value”—it determined the value copy resonated better, driving a 110% increase in click-throughs and an 8% lift in rewards and offer redemptions.
In that vein, don’t forget to test your push messaging and in-app messaging. For example, if users receive pop-up messages, can they easily close them? Having to hit the back button—or navigate to a tiny X at the corner of the pop-up—can be incredibly frustrating and definitely not a positive user experience. If you offer daily deals through your app, when is the right time of day to send push notifications on the day’s deals to drive quick engagement and conversion? Test push vs. in-app messages for acknowledging purchases. Test the message itself—a simple “thanks” push vs. a message that immediately includes the next engagement opportunity? Which gets the customer back the fastest? Do they engage with your notification immediately? Are there any other engagement patterns emerging? Messaging success can be impacted by a number of factors—including the copy, design, frequency, and even order of communications—so it’s important to test it all.
7. Re-Engagement Experience
Most likely, your messaging tactics above are for re-engagement. You’ve tested to determine what messaging gets that click, but let’s remember to also test the experience that happens after. In my coffee-shop app example above, I received a push notification at one point, reminding me to “Tip your java master now.” However, when I clicked to do so, the app took me to the “Pay Now” screen that offered no visible way to add a tip. I’m fairly certain that was not the screen I was supposed to be taken to. Whether your re-engagement tactics include messaging or email (that users will open on their mobile devices), make sure to test and optimize that next step. It can have a major impact on the user experience with your brand.
While we all have examples of times when testing the blue vs. red button really did make a difference, there’s often more to be tested and enhanced right below the surface. Put on your customer hat and work through your app experience, seeing what improves your journey and what leaves room for improvement. And, from there—test, test, and test some more, optimizing and enhancing the customer experience along the way. The results can be massive for your customers and for your brand.