Design Principles for Mobile App of Transactional Applications
A Mobile App Design is mostly for reading information rather than writing. Increasingly, users hate to type on a mobile keyboard and they would rather prefer touching.
Transactional Applications are those which are used to perform business transactions like your CRM application, Procure to Pay applications, Invoicing or Accounting applications, Payroll Applications, Inventory or even your complete ERP applications. The applications require elaborate webforms and data entry to ensure your business derives its intended results. When designing the mobile interface of such applications, following design principles for mobile applications need to be considered:
Ascertain and list out the intended purpose of your mobile App Design. Remember, you should not replicate your entire web application into a mobile app. That will not create convenience for the end user, rather become an inconvenience since the screen size of a mobile phone is a lot smaller than a computer and hence performing writing transactions via a mobile phone is very difficult. If at all you need the user to be able to perform transactions, then design it for less data entry and more for a touch of a button.
Examples: A CRM app should be able to see a sales funnel visualization rather than enter customer details through a mobile app. Accounting systems should be able to visualize outstanding invoices rather than passing expense entries through a mobile app. User’s mobile app scans your credit card and does an OCR to populate the credit card fields efficiently.
Login & Authorisation:
Pay most attention to App Design how your mobile app allows user login and authorization. The login should be easy, should not ask for login details every time the end user tries to login, wherever possible, should provide touch based SSO logins using social network credentials like Facebook, Twitter, Google, etc. If your mobile app’s login process is complex, you will observe that users do not come back to reuse your app, and no matter how good your app is inside, if users are hesitant to login, they will never experience the inside.
Examples: For a Financial App like an internet banking app, security and authorization are of prime importance, social SSO cannot be used, and users cannot be allowed to remain logged in always. Bad Way: Ask for Internet Banking UserId and Password every time the user wants to login. Good Way: During the first login, allow the user to create a simple 4 digit access key using their internet banking credentials, and subsequent logins should only ask for that 4 digit access key. Remember, further security can be enforced inside the application before allowing a transaction rather than during the login process.
Interaction with Default Mobile Apps:
All mobile phones come with default productivity apps irrespective of their platforms. Some examples are Push Messages, Calendar, Camera etc. Transaction mobile apps should take advantage of these default apps and create enhanced convenience for its end users. A CRM application can integrate with calendar to remind users of meeting schedules, a financial app can integrate their bill payment with calendar to give instant reminders to end users.
Example: The SchoolTime mobile App Design integrates the users (Student/Teacher) Time Table with the Google Calendar. The end user does not require to login to the app every time to check their schedule. Instead, they get to see Calendar alerts on the mobile dashboard itself.
Visual Design, Navigation & Gestures:
Emphasise on creating few navigational menu items on a single screen of the mobile app. Navigation menu should not replicate your web applications but should be in the form of large icons. A mobile app should be very beautiful, so pay heed to flat design concepts, use scientific colour combinations, clean and minimalistic designs, uniformity of fonts used, less text and more icons. Creating quick links of frequently used menu items or last transactions is also a good idea. Work more on gestures to reduce navigational links.
Examples: A shopping cart mobile app should create shopping sections on the landing screen rather than a left menu/drop down with links to sections, do not over populate the landing screen and provide only most popular sections. Meaningful flat icons instead of descriptive texts. A lot of navigation menu options are revealed by long pressing a user in Whatsapp mobile app. The Paytm app allows users to save their transactions as favourite so that next time the entire transaction can be performed with a single touch.
Added Comfort in Text Entry:
Although it is advised not to have text entry inputs, it is not always possible to eliminate it completely. So if you have to use textual entry, think of ways to increase convenience to end user by reducing the number of keypad clicks. Take care that while entering text in a single field or a form, the subsequent form element is not hidden under the keypad. This makes the end user very uncomfortable to enter data, and if that happens, the active keypad should automatically change the “Enter” button to “Next” button, so that the user can navigate to the next field instead of struggling to scroll the screen upwards.
Example: While entering full name, automatically activate Caps lock for the first alphabet of each name – First middle last. While entering email id, automatically activate @ button in active keyboard. While entering website information, automatically activate .com in active keyboard.
Do not forget that 80% of mobile users use their smart phones for fun and entertainment. It would not be a bad idea to gamify even serious business applications. Think about innovative ways to entertain the end user beyond all the business convenience.
Examples: SchoolTime mobile app provides quick access to a BMI tool, has a simple paint application for fun, quiz applications for engagement. It is also considering providing a Cookbook knowing that the parents using the app may be mostly mothers interested in cooking.
Avoid modal alerts at all cost! They are very intrusive and contributes maximum to the customer drop.
Conclusion: Your business driven by your mobile app has a large potential to ensure success or failure for your entire business. Attention to these fine details will make your user come back and interact with your app. That could become the key to your business success.
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