Here’s how to simplify your app (and get more customers)

Bill Mount

When you’re building a product, you want to build it in a way that appeals to your target audience. But there’s a definite disconnect in how products are being built and how they’re being received. For example, in 2019, 25% of all mobile apps were only used once, which means […]

When you’re building a product, you want to build it in a way that appeals to your target audience.

But there’s a definite disconnect in how products are being built and how they’re being received. For example, in 2019, 25% of all mobile apps were only used once, which means that 25% of the time, users download an app, try it once, and abandon it forever — presenting a huge missed opportunity for the business.

User Experience, or UX, plays a large role in attracting and retaining customers for your product. And if you want to attract and retain customers, the best thing you can do?

Simplify.

Simplifying your UX can go a long way in attracting new customers, driving conversions, and ensuring those newly converted customers stick around. But how, exactly, can you simplify your UX in a way that connects with customers — and grows your business in the process?

[Read: How Netflix shapes mainstream culture, explained by data]

Well, here below is what I’ve learned through trial and error with my own app — hopefully, it’ll make your route to success even quicker.

Shorten and simplify your sign-up form

When you’re launching a new app, the very first hurdle is acquiring new customers — getting them to sign up for your platform. And what plays an outsized role in whether a potential customer does or doesn’t use your platform?

Your sign-up process.

The more steps there are to your sign-up process, the more opportunities there are to lose potential customers. So, for example, if users have to fill in 15 different fields on your sign-up form before they can get started using your software, that’s 15 opportunities for them to decide “You know what? This is taking too long” or “On second thought, I’m not sure this app is what I’m looking for.”

The barrier to getting started is just too high — and just like that, you’ve lost the customer.

If you want to attract more customers, you need to lower that barrier to entry and make it as simple as possible for them to get signed up and get started with your app — and that starts with simplifying your sign-up form.

When my team and I first launched Hourly, we were getting significant traffic to our sign-up page — but our conversions weren’t where we wanted them to be. We quickly realized that the issue was the sign-up form; in order to register for a free trial, visitors had to fill in about 10 fields — and a lot of them just didn’t want to invest the time and energy into completing the form. 

So, we thought to ourselves, “how can we simplify this process as much as possible?” And we went in a completely different direction. Instead of asking visitors to answer 10 questions, we narrowed our sign-up form to a single field.

Now, in order to get started with Hourly, all you have to do is enter either your mobile phone number or your email address — and we get you authenticated and registered via a 4-digit code that you can use to sign in.

Simplifying our sign-up page has had a HUGE impact on our conversions. When we simplified our form from ten fields to one, our conversion rate increased by more than 50%.

But wait, I can hear you say, “What about all of the important data we used to collect in that form?” Well, I’ve got some good news for you — you can push the collection of that data further downstream in an onboarding process. That way someone gets the chance to interact with your platform before saying, “I like this, I’ll add my name and contact info and go deeper.”

Moral of the story? The simpler your sign-up process, the easier it is for customers to get started with your platform — and the more customers you’ll convert as a result.

Skip the password (without skimping on security)

Security is, hands down, one of the most important aspects of running a tech company. When a user signs up for your app or platform, they want to know that their account and information is safe and secure.

Generally, most companies provide that safety and security by requiring users to enter a password to access their account.

And while there’s certainly nothing wrong with using passwords as a way to protect customer information, the truth is, a lot of customers don’t want to keep track of yet another password (as someone with 700+ passwords in my personal password vault, I speak from experience). 

And so your customers are faced with a dilemma: they can either use their go-to password that they use for every other account (which poses some serious security issues) or they can come up with a brand new, unique password just for your platform — which, chances are, they’re going to forget in a matter of hours.

Luckily, there’s a way you can solve this dilemma and keep your customers’ accounts safe in the process — and that’s through password-less authentication.

When customers sign up for Hourly, all they have to do is register their cell phone number or email. Then, when they’re ready to sign in, we send them a unique, one-time code they can use to get in.

It’s a win-win situation; because the sign-in code is sent directly to the customer’s mobile phone or email, the authentication process keeps their account safe and secure — and because the code changes every time, there’s no need for the customer to keep track of the code or try to remember a password.

The easier you make it for your customers to engage with your platform, the more likely it is that they’ll do business with you — and eliminating the need to come up with (and remember!) yet another password is a great way to make things easier for your customers.

Save users time, effort, and frustration with intuitive design choices

It doesn’t matter how amazing your product is; if your customers have to spend a ton of time just navigating from one section to the next they’re going to get frustrated very quickly — and that frustration can drive them to abandon your platform altogether.

That’s why intuitively designing your app, platform, software, or website in a way that makes it easier for your customers to use is so important.

Let’s use our platform, Hourly, as an example. There are a variety of tasks users can tackle within the phone app, from running payroll to reviewing individual employee timesheets to securing workers’ compensation insurance — and there are plenty of occasions where users want to tackle multiple tasks within a single session.

When we first launched the app, there was no easy way to navigate between tasks; once you were on a specific page within the app, you would have to tap the back button in order to get back to the overview page and start a new task — and, depending on what you were doing, you would sometimes have to tap back 5+ times to navigate to a new area of the app.

We realized those tap backs were wasting our customers’ time. So, our lead designer, Andres Clavijo, simplified the app’s navigation with a simple, intuitive design change — moving and pinning the menu bar to the bottom of the app. Now, no matter which page our customers are on or how far down they’ve scrolled, they can access any other part of the app seamlessly — no backtracking required.

The point is, simple design choices can make your app easier or more challenging for your users to navigate — and if you want your UX to attract and keep more customers, you should definitely leverage design to make things easier and less time-consuming.

Simplify your product’s functionality

You can simplify your sign-up process. You can simplify your log-in. You can simplify your design and navigation.

But it’s not enough.

Ultimately, you need to simplify your product, too.

The entire reason I created the Hourly app is that I realized workers’ compensation, time tracking and payroll were complicated processes for business owners — and if I could simplify those processes, it would solve a number of headaches for those business owners. 

So the way Hourly functions is simple. It’s a one-click process; you run payroll, pay your payroll taxes, and pay your workers’ compensation premiums all with a single click.

If the process was any more complicated (for example, by having to pay taxes separately from paying your team), it would have negated the entire reason for creating the app — and even if we simplified the rest of our UX, it wouldn’t have been enough to resonate with customers.

This simplification took multiple tasks — collecting and inputting time cards, running payroll, paying payroll taxes, and paying workers’ comp premiums — things that usually take an entire day to do, and turns them into one click.

Bottom line? You need to make simplicity an integral part of your product’s DNA. 

Simplify your way to better UX — and better customer acquisition, conversions, and customer retention

As the great physicist Einstein once said, “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler.” Of course, he was referring to explaining why things are the way they are, but it’s great advice for businesses too.

If you want your business to succeed, you need to make things as easy, streamlined, and simple for your customers as possible — just like we did at Hourly. Good luck!

Published January 18, 2021 — 09:34 UTC

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