7 Ways to Inject Playfulness into Your App Design, by RKS

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Usability and enjoyability can go hand in hand. Here are a few ways RKS turns mundane apps into fun ones.

The key to creating any good UX is to start off by aligning the design team's goal with your user’s goal

While developing the app concept “Let’s Get Away,” the design team at RKS focused on features that would make vacation planning almost as exciting as the vacation itself. UX designer Nour Malaeb details how to create an app that is functional yet fun to use.

1. Think like a filmmaker
Films are a powerful art form, and filmmakers are adept at controlling the emotional state of their audience. Designers should think about the emotional states they want users to pass through as they use the app, and make it their team’s goal to elicit those emotional responses from users. At RKS, designers always work with a mantra in mind: “It’s not how you feel about the design or experience; it’s how it makes you feel about yourself.”

2. Challenge your user
It’s true, nobody likes it when something that should be simple to do ends up being a lot of work. The funny thing is, sometimes people don’t like things being too easy. Giving users a measurable goal to work towards can help guide their decisions, as well as create “replayability” of the app. This goal could be sticking to a budget, getting to “Inbox Zero,” or having the most complete tax return.

3. Start with empathy
The key to creating any good UX is to start off by aligning the design team's goal with the user’s goal. Prototypes should be tested in real situations and tweaked until all sources of frustrations have been eliminated.

4. Encourage shared experiences
People are social creatures. They usually find an experience more enjoyable when done with someone else, whether it is eating a meal, watching a movie, or going to a concert. With touch-friendly, highly visual interfaces becoming the norm now, there’s no reason not to cater to these social needs. Such types of interfaces make it easy for a group of people to huddle around one screen and all contribute.

5. Make complexity approachable
For most people, taxes are boring. Budgets are dull. They are seen as necessary evils. But often the real reason people try to avoid them is because they are difficult concepts to grasp. By expressing the core ideas of an app in relatable terms, UX designers can boost user’s confidence level, encouraging them to dive in.

6. Give users a good starting point
Most people don’t like being put on the spot, especially when being presented with a large number of options. Just think how hard it is to think of a place to go for lunch. By giving users a choice from a limited number of options instead of forcing them to search, users can rely on recognition rather than recall to make their choice.

7. Talk like a human
It can be hard for people to understand what apps are telling them. The use of natural language and conversational tone helps them feel comfortable and knowledgeable. It also gives the opportunity to add humor where appropriate.

Inspired? Check out the “Let’s Get Away” app designed by RKS in partnership with Rightware and Imagination Technologies at http://www.rksdesign.com/project#lets-get-away.

About RKS
RKS is an innovation consulting firm delivering human-focused solutions with global impact. Founded in 1980, RKS utilizes design as a strategic tool advancing clients’ ability to focus on people’s needs and aspirations while creating sustainable business results and benefits to society. Working domestically and globally and having won over 150 major design awards, RKS credits Maslow and Campbell’s work as the foundation for its systematic and pragmatic set of frameworks, setting the stage for the creation of experiences that motivate and reward audiences. Read more at http://www.rksdesign.com.

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Julie Calderini
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