When launching an app, you may succeed at getting a high number of initial downloads and installs, but see a significant drop in engagement afterward. This is a common frustration for app owners, as they have to find out what's making people drop off after initial use. To increase engagement and retention, app owners must do what they can to maximize the number of daily interactions with their app, which will help increase usage and ultimately make your app more profitable.
One of the most important components of an app that maintains consistent engagement is a great user experience (UX), which is where interaction design (IxD) comes into play.
Before getting into IxD and how to use it to increase daily interactions with an app, you need to understand UX design and how interaction design plays into it.
In short, UX design entails increasing an app's usability with a smooth and effective user experience. UX addresses users' individual goals, the issues they're experiencing that the app can help resolve, and the overall user journey. To achieve this, UX design incorporates a specific continuous process that involves conducting user research, design, testing, and implementation.
Over time, through UX design, app owners can better determine what's working and what isn't when it comes to engaging users. The goal is to allow for continual improvement that provides users with a consistently great experience. One of the core elements of a good UX design is good user interaction design, which determines precisely how users will interact with your UX design after completing the design process.
If you want to define user interaction or IxD, it's a relatively simple concept—it refers to the design of the interaction between users and apps or other products. It's primarily associated with digital products such as apps and software, but it can also apply to other physical products. Through interaction design, the goal is to allow users to easily achieve the desired objective in the most reliable way possible.
IxD is critical for a great overall user experience, accounting for elements such as motion, aesthetics, space, and sound, among many others. Each element falls into its own specialized field. For instance, graphic designers might be partly responsible for optimizing the aesthetics of the app.
The main difference between interaction design and user experience design is that interaction is a core component of UX design. Meanwhile, UX design involves many other processes beyond interaction design, including user research, developing user personas, conducting tests of the app's usability and design, and more.
Today, there are five primary dimensions of interaction design, which can give you a better idea of what IxD entails. Interaction design expert Gillian Crampton Smith developed the first four dimensions of the IxD language. From there, IDEXX Laboratories' senior interaction designer, Kevin Silver, added another.
The five dimensions of IxD are as follows:
These are the words you would use in user interactions, such as input labels or buttons. These words should be consistently meaningful and comprehensible, communicating critical information to users in a way that the user can easily understand.
Visual representations comprise graphical components such as photography, images, typography, diagrams, icons, and other visual elements. Oftentimes, visuals are more effective than text, depending on the design and ubiquity of the visual. For instance, many people will recognize an icon in the shape of a house as a button that takes them to a homepage within an app. The user may not require any accompanying text, although some visuals might include it for clarity.
This determines how people interact with a product using a physical object. For example, users might access an app on a smartphone, tablet, or even a laptop computer, using either their fingers or a device such as a mouse or a touchpad.
Additionally, this dimension accounts for the physical space the user is in when using the product. Users could be commuting to work by car, for instance, or they may be in their office when accessing an app.
Together, these physical objects and spaces affect how the user interacts with the product.
Time refers to the amount of time that users spend interacting with a product's words, visual representations, and physical objects and space. It also regards media that changes over time, including videos, audio, and animations. Apps often use certain visual and audio cues to provide audio-visual feedback to users' interactions with a product, and these cues may change as an app evolves.
Behavior gauges how users interact with an app or another product based on all of the other dimensions. In addition, it determines the kinds of reactions users have based on interaction, including feedback and emotional responses.
When combined, all of these five dimensions factor into solid user interaction design.
User-centered interaction design is necessary to provide users with the best possible experience that keeps them coming back. If you want to develop effective user interaction design to secure more daily users, the following are some steps to take to optimize the user experience.
The core principle of interaction design is to meet users' needs. Think about what your users want from your app and the experience they have with it. This way you can give it to them. To figure out user requirements, you can look closely at user behavior, collect and analyze user data, or develop certain scenarios.
To determine what your users want and need, you need to understand how they think. Developing a map of the user's mental model can help you do so to your benefit.
The fact is that the majority of users interact with apps and other products based largely on instinct. To put it another way, when users see a particular button within an app, they will believe it can help meet their needs. However, if the button doesn't achieve what the user believes it will upon tapping on it, this is indicative of poor design.
When engaging in interaction design, consider what your users expect to be able to accomplish with each action. You can then determine how best to communicate each functionality of your app to lead users along their journey. If visual representations might not be entirely clear to users, for example, you may want to add some accompanying text to provide more context.
If you can accurately predict how people will engage with your app and its interface, you can more effectively guide them toward the desired point and increase engagement.
You may be familiar with the phrase "less is more," which absolutely applies to mobile apps and user interaction design. You don't want to overwhelm your users and provide them with too much stimulation or information. This is why it's often best to keep designs simple while carrying users along their journey.
Try to make sure visual components in your app encourage engagement without overloading users visually or cognitively. Your text should also use more conversational language and avoid complex technical jargon and other terminology. Even if your users are smart, they may be busy and want an expedited experience within your app.
One of the best ways to use simplicity with effective design to increase engagement is through in-app stories. Storyly enables you to incorporate messaging and appealing visuals to drive engagement and specific actions. This tool is an SDK that you can integrate into your app. You can then facilitate interactions through a variety of content, including quizzes, polls, emoji reactions, and other interactive stickers. Using brief but effective messaging and appealing visuals, these stories can be the key to boosting daily interactions.
When interacting with your app, users will want to achieve their goals within the shortest amount of time possible. In turn, you must incorporate designs that make it easy for users to complete a set of tasks to achieve their goals. Ideally, you'll want to create the shortest distance possible between initial interaction and satisfaction among users.
One way Storyly can help with this is through the use of personalized stories that connect with each user based on their individual preferences and needs. For example, an eCommerce app could display an in-app story that recommends a particular product based on their order history, with a button enabling them to instantly add it to their cart. If a customer abandons their cart, SMS texts and push notifications can remind them to return and complete their purchase with a convenient link.
Although great visual design is important, it can't come at the cost of functionality. If people are unable to actually use your app, they won't care about its aesthetics, no matter how appealing they are. Your app needs to do what it's intended to do for the user, with appearances coming second. Once you've devoted enough research and time into developing the ideal functionality, you can then focus more on the visual counterparts. Again, sometimes less is more in this regard, as simple visual designs may be all the user needs as long as they can achieve their goals with efficiency.
Whenever users complete an action within your app, such as tapping on a button or completing a form, the app should confirm that the user completed it. This feedback must be fast and effective and may entail changes in color, shapes, vibrations, lights, or other elements that take place when users perform a certain action. Once this feedback has occurred, the user will know when it's time to take the next step within the app, preventing confusion and keeping them engaged.
For example, when changing a setting using an icon, the icon could change colors depending on whether its corresponding action has been completed.
Another critical feature of interaction design is the consistency of the app experience. Apps must maintain consistent performance, functionality, and tone. The more consistent your app is, the more users will understand what the app and your brand are about while streamlining the user journey. With consistency embedded into your app, users will come to recognize and trust your app as you stand apart from competitors in your category.
As soon as users open your app and begin interacting with it, they won't need to become accustomed to it again with each use. Instead, the app experience will become increasingly familiar to them, which helps keep them engaged.
To keep your app consistent, you can use Storyly's customizable stories to develop engaging in-app stories that are aligned with the rest of the app experience. In the process, users will benefit from a seamless experience that moves them along their individual journeys.
Whenever you're developing a new interaction design solution, you need to make sure it works to your advantage. Based on users' needs and preferences you discovered through user interaction research, you may develop multiple solutions, making it important to determine which one is the best to implement. Testing can help gauge the performance of each solution before rolling it out, which will make sure that the implementation doesn't wind up hindering your app's performance or aesthetics and, subsequently, user interaction.
While interaction design is one of multiple aspects within the scope of user experience, it's an integral one. If you can invest enough time and effort into your app's interaction design, you'll be able to dramatically increase user engagement and ensure daily interactions among new and existing users.
Using Storyly, you can create engaging in-app stories tailored to each user to keep them returning. Everything from personalized product recommendations to onboarding stories that track users' progress, there's no shortage of ways to use Storyly to increase engagement and retention.