Six golden tips to improve your web application

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Web applications make our lives easier: they are accessible anywhere, anytime, take work off our hands and are always up to date. But unfortunately, they are not always easy to use. Where does it (too) often go wrong? In other words: how can your web application be improved?

1. Welcome aboard!

For every user, there is that first time he or she is going to use your web application. An important moment, because this experience is going to make him either become a fan or drop out. How do you make sure he goes for the first option?

Take him by the hand, or as it's called in interaction design terms: make sure you have a good onboarding. Make sure every step in the process is clear to the user. Where should he start? What is the next step? What are the key features of the application? Show him, guide him, without being patronizing. And also important: make sure he is not confronted with these tips over and over again. This way you can also introduce new features.

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Source: © Google Maps Timeline

2. Keep the flow alive

Every user of an application has a goal. And the easier he achieves that goal, the nicer he will like it. That seems logical, but with some Web applications, developers seem to have forgotten that. They make it difficult or illogical for the user to achieve their goal.

Like having them build a new national highway where you can drive 150 km per hour, but at the same time leaving rocks on it. That's not going to make motorists happy. They will continue to use the old 80 km road, which, although not allowed to go as fast, at least ensures that you get home alive.

The easier it is for a user to achieve his goal, whether it is to register hours, rent a house or inventory risks, the more likely he will continue to use the application. So be aware of the path the user will take, his flow, and make sure all obstacles are gone.

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3. Where are the trees?

A Web application generally has many functionalities, but not all of them are equally important. Therefore, distinguish between primary and secondary functionalities. Make sure that the user continues to see the forest for the trees: give the primary ones more attention, but also make sure that the secondary ones do not become untraceable.

4. Who is this user anyway?

Yes, who is the user of your web application anyway? Do you know? Or do you think it's not that important? Then you are very wrong, because the frame of reference of your users largely determines how successful your application will be.

When designing an application, it should always be clear who the target audience is. How old are the users? What occupational group are they in? Where do they live? By knowing as much as possible about your (future) users, you can serve them in the best possible way. Because: what do these people find logical? What do they find interesting? And what causes them frustration? Essential information that you want to have as early as possible, so you can seamlessly connect your product to their experience.

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5. Consistency is king

Imagine this: you buy a hot dog and want to top it with a nice blob of mustard. Of course, you then choose the yellow bottle next to it. You'd be surprised if you then suddenly spray ketchup on sausage, because you were taught that it's supposed to be in the red bottle. Consistency makes life predictable, and while that may seem boring in some cases, it's exactly what you want when you're using software.

Because then you don't want to be surprised by how a button works; rather, you want it to do what you expect it to do. So consistency in functionality is an essential requirement for ease of use in web applications!

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6. Don't keep the user guessing

It is inevitable (and of course quite desirable) that a user is going to enter data into a Web application. But what is he going to enter where and why? Make sure that even with an empty database a user does not have to guess what to do: show him. Make sure there is a so-called empty state, which makes it clear to the user what is expected of him.

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A lot of it comes down to the same thing....

Don't make them think! The less a user has to think about how to find his way through your web application, the happier he becomes. And the happier he becomes with your software, the more likely he is to keep using it. And recommend it to others.

So in a world where there is actually always an alternative to any Web application due to the sheer volume of offerings, user-friendly design is more important than ever.