The following is a guest blog post by Joe Tuan is the founder of Topflight Apps.
mHealth apps are meant to deliver life-saving functions. Whether it’s for e-prescription, appointment setting, patient management or even patient education, you want to make sure your users can find and fully utilize all the functions of your app.
These are the types of apps that, even though meant to perform complex functions, you want to keep as simple as possible. If you’ve never worked with a professional UX designer, designing a mHealth app will make you appreciate the intensity and complexity of the work that goes into making something simple.
The user flow, the number of screens, messaging, colors, fonts, copy, images and more all have a direct impact on the effectiveness of your app. Depending on the type of user you are targeting, all these attributes will differ and require repeated testing until you find your sweet spot.
Even though these variables are volatile depending on the app you are building, the guiding principles behind them are constant. These guiding principles will help you optimize your app for success:
1. Keep it simple
The reason you are building a mHealth app is to make the life of your users easier. Yes, the work that goes into building the app is bone-breaking hard, but your users need not see this reflected in complicated dashboards and functions that will require a tremendous amount of time to master.
Simplifying a complex mHealth app requires the coordinated efforts of the users, designers, and developers. Users just want an app that does what it says it’s supposed to and is easy to use. Designers want to impress you with complex creative layouts while developers need to make sense of everything and make them work.
You need to strike a balance between beauty and functionality and practicality. Make sure to get this right. If you don’t know how to, hire a professional.
2. Guide your users
Have you ever wondered why you can easily get around an airport no matter where you are in the world? Airports are intensely busy and crowded, but yet some of the most efficient spaces in the world.
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, for example, sees over 100 million passengers each year. That’s an average of over 270,000 passengers daily, and they all need to arrive and leave on time!
There is no time for these passengers to ‘learn’ how to get around an airport. When they land, they must be able to find their way around immediately. How do airport designers make this possible? Through simple, predictable design and more importantly, easy-to-understand signages.
Your mHealth app is just like an airport. You need to create simple design cues that help your users know what they need to do next. A professional app designer with UX experience will easily understand this and translate it into simple screens and buttons that are so easy that even a child can understand.
Colors play a much bigger role than they are given credit for. Don’t just pick your favorite color and slap it onto your app. That’s the same as painting a pink elephant. It’s an elephant alright, but pink? Several studies have shown that color has an effect on human behavior.
Here’s a brief guide to help you when selecting which colors to use:
- Blue shows loyalty, stability, and peace
- Red represents intense passion and aggression
- Green is for peace, hope, healing, and success
- Yellow is for optimism, youth, and happiness
- Purple represents luxury, royalty, and spirituality
- Black is bold and powerful, it invokes a professional look and mystery
- White represents purity, cleanliness, and innocence
- Grey is neutral, quiet and practical
- Orange shows creativeness and adventure
- Pink is the color of love, affection, and gentleness
Less is more. Use short, direct copy without the fluff. You want a user to be able to take action after reading your copy without struggling to understand what you are trying to say. A good example of great copy is Smart Symptom Tracker. Short, sweet copy that helps users get straight to the point.
By tweaking your copy, you can significantly improve your app engagement and retention rates.
5. Listen to your users
Get feedback from your users and implement the improvements as quickly as you can. Nobody ever gets everything right the first time. Even though you are the owner of the app and feel that you should dictate every single detail about it, you have to realize that your users take priority and will shape your app into what they feel works best for them.
Listen to what your users have to say. Not everything is correct and you possibly can’t include every single request, but you should definitely listen. With diligence, you’ll be able to organize the feedback and decipher a pattern in their requests. Once you’ve figured that out, create an update that meets those needs.
You need your users to trust you. Health is a very sensitive subject and the average mHealth app user lifespan usually lasts several years at a time. Listening to and acting on their feedback will help users to trust you and remain loyal.
Finally, trust the data. If your app does not have Firebase Analytics, you are missing out on a lot of important data. Everything from app crash reports, how users are using your app, which functions are buggy and so much more, can be tracked with Analytics by Firebase.
Carefully study this information and make sense of it. The more you understand who is using your app and how they are using it will help you to make it even better than you could without their input.
Designing a mHealth app is an exciting process, but clearly, it does involve so much more than what I’ve been able to talk about in this one article.
About Joe Tuan
Joe Tuan is the founder of Topflight Apps, an award-winning app team of entrepreneurial designers and developers. Topflight Apps has been recognized by B2B ratings and reviews platform Clutch as one of California’s best mobile app development companies.