App Usability & User Behaviour

App Usability & User Behaviour
February 10, 2016 Eoin Smith

As a team, we deep dived into Usability so much during 2015 that discussing our own behaviours became second nature in the studio. As a Digital Media Designer, I think looking at how one personally uses apps on a regular basis gives a good idea of what is valued as a user. It’s also a great starting point to understanding user behaviour in general, and teaching oneself to become aware of things one wouldn’t usually notice.

For myself, it was learning that despite an app having some downsides, I would keep using it out of habit and overall ease of use. When an app can’t be faulted, it’s because its design is simple and user friendly. To prove my point, I’m giving a quick run-through of my favourite apps, those I use most often and why I use them. Why not take a look at your own apps and share your thoughts below?

Facebook

The first app I think I use over all others is probably Facebook. They dominate social media on desktop and mobile devices and using it is a natural reflex for anyone in their twenties. Scrolling my newsfeed on Facebook has become a time-killer for me when sitting on a bus or waiting to meet someone. It’s my go-to app.

There have been many times when I’ve caught myself reading a completely random news article from my newsfeed that I wouldn’t have come across otherwise. Finding entertaining content like that without actually having to look for it is a huge plus. Facebook’s massive user base also means this content is always fresh and in good supply.

Dublin Bus

Dublin-BusWhen they launched their real-time updates for buses at stops, this app linked with users and made it much easier to track when your next bus was due. With each bus stop having a specific number, you can easily search the stop and even save it into your favourites for a later date. Another useful feature is the fare calculator, which lets you know how much it costs from one stop to another.

Positives aside I’ve often watched a bus that was 5 minutes away eventually read as ‘due’ and then disappear into cyber-bus-space with the next not scheduled for half an hour. This proves the point that an app can be used regularly (and even loved!) by users, despite being a little flawed, simply for adding a limited amount of convenience to an everyday task.

Spotify

Spotify is always handy at spitting out random playlists you’re gonna love listening to. From a practical point of view, I think I use this app to replace the need to store songs locally on my device. With an iPhone, if you have low memory (which is often!), it becomes a major headache to carry out even basic tasks like sending texts.

I’ve been introduced to so much new music by having Spotify on shuffle. In the same way as Facebook gives me interesting articles, Spotify gives users content they enjoy without having to look for it. Spotify adds are nothing to get excited about, in fact they annoy me, but it’s worth it to sit through them for music I know I’ll love, for free!

Gmail

GmailIt has become instinct to check my mail on a regular basis. I jump to the app and am refreshing my email accounts unconsciously, and can monitor multiple accounts from one place. Inevitably, some mails are spam and a bit annoying, but not checking up on everything for a few days could mean a bulk of 100+ emails appearing.

The downside of that is I really don’t enjoy unread email notifications showing on my phone! This kind of catch-22 makes email apps a great way to get a debate going about how different user types behave and consume technology. To sync or not to sync, that is the question!

Timehop

timehopThis is a useful app for looking back on your social media posts from that day, over previous years. You get to read all the cringing posts you put up 5 years previous, alongside the photos you thought had disappeared forever. The app connects to a large range of your social media channels, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. 

When you reach the bottom of the feed you are also given a random fact from that day that could be from any year. Overall it’s a quirky app that suits my user needs perfectly by helping me to pass the time, by looking at content that entertains me and I find personally relevant.

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Eoin Smith
Eoin is a UX Programme Manager at Graphic Mint.