Many innovative trends came into their own this year where experience design and application development converge, specifically the simplicity of flat design and the user-friendly functionality of cross-platform design.

Each of these was a welcome improvement for all app users, and with the new year approaching, this is a great time for app designers to make some UX resolutions for even better digital experiences in 2014.


1. I will not use lengthy setup wizards

Users should be able to get inside an app and/or through a setup process without being forced to enter all their profile/account information at the very beginning. Regardless of how important this data is, apps that are built with UX in mind must be designed to offer users the option to enter this information whenever they want to.

2. I will limit feature tours

Multi-page explanations of an app are confusing and the opposite of user-friendly. Well-designed apps and web services should be easy to use and understand, so not only should there be no need for more than three pages of information on usage, if there does need to be a lengthy explanation, it should be provided as users move naturally though the platform.

3. I will leverage retina-level graphics

Anything less just looks unprofessional.

4. I will not blindly follow user requests

Many companies will ask users or internal stakeholders about what design elements they'd like to see incorporated into a web app or service, without doing any research to see if these requests will actually provide the best experience for those users. Ultimately, this approach is destined to end in failure: not only will it fail to solve foundational problems, it may even create new issues.

5. I will not overuse notifications

I've heard many people express frustration with the way certain apps abuse their notification systems. Companies think it's no big deal to send out a plethora of notifications to users, but it's actually a huge turnoff, the result being that users end up turning off notifications altogether. That's never a good thing.

New Year's app design resolution for 2014: I will not blindly follow user requests

6. I will stop using hub and spoke design

The hub and spoke design model refers to design that's architected around a central hub, with all traffic start there and moving out along spokes that ultimately have to be reversed to get back to that central point. The hub turns into a dashboard that's purely navigational, forcing users to click something before they can get anywhere else within the app. Let’s see more dynamic hubs in 2014, ones that provide information as well as navigation rather than simply directing traffic to other areas of a site or application.

7. I will not build siloed apps

Applications or web services that don't allow single sign-on (SSO) options should definitely look to remedy this in 2014. Giving users the option to sign in or sign up through an email or social media account not only helps battle password fatigue, it also allows the app to capture necessary account information. Companies should also take advantage of deep-linking between apps, which supports more efficient interactions with less app-switching frustration. Now that iOS and Android support it, apps need to take advantage.

What are some of your app design resolutions for 2014? Share them on Twitter (#AppResolution) or in the comments below.


Image of after party cleanup courtesy Shutterstock


One dimensional usage: where applications are designed and documented with only tasks imagined or intended by the development team covered-leaving huge gaps in configuration, re-use and off-axis use. For example, the Samsung documentation and embedded help say absolutely nothing about where files are stored when I save attachments from a text message, nor do the gallery or texting applications allow me to configure these locations.
The reason, I suspect-and this is just one example-is that the developers created a workflow for managing files that was based on social media sharing where all files were put in a couple of bins that are exposed through the API but not universally available.

if it's a promise: "I WILL"

I would like to see a reduction, not increase in the amount of Social Media authentication used in app sign-ups. With the issues regarding privacy over the last year we should all be more active in keeping the data relationship between app owner and user more secure.

I share your privacy concerns about using SSO with social media accounts, especially if they are requesting access to more information than necessary. A good rule of thumb that I use before recommending social media SSO to AKTA's clients is to only offer it when the app itself is social in nature, and the user will direclty benefit from having their friends list and streamlined sharing capabilities. I should also add that a native signon should always be an option for users who do not have or want to connect to their other social accounts.

The only one missing is "do not interrupt the user experience to prompt the user for a review of your app"

That would make a great addition! There are many apps out there that do it very poorly, such as the ones being shamed on the "Eff Your Review" tumblr. I was happy to see this issue even got the attention of John Gruber recently.