What does a poor user experience cost mobile developers?

Image: Intel Free Press/CC BY-SA 2.0

The user experience (UX) remains a key consideration for many mobile app developers, yet recent data showed that few developers understand how poor UX can impact the bottom line.

In a recent survey of 423 web and mobile app stakeholders, 88 percent of respondents said they believed it was important to know the dollar cost of poor UX. Furthermore, the survey, which was conducted by app intelligence company AppDynamics and analyst firm Dimensional Research, the survey revealed 38 percent said they are unable to quantify the cost of poor UX.

"Based on our findings, the majority of companies are still trying to get a handle on measuring and managing user experience," Dimensional Research Founder Diane Hagglund said in a prepared statement. "The lack of visibility into how experience affects business metrics also prevents IT leaders from influencing business outcomes positively."

How developers approach UX remains crucial. If a developer prioritizes UX throughout the app development cycle, he or she may be better equipped to determine the cost of poor UX. Conversely, a developer that ignores UX may struggle to identify and correct UX problems and risk missing out on revenue growth opportunities.

MSTQ, a Chicago-based UX design studio, takes a "human-centered approach" to create digital products and deliver positive UX. By doing so, the company has addressed a glaring weakness among developers in Chicago and beyond.

MSTQ and the app development cycle

Today, MSTQ operates as a "service business," according to founder Yazin Akkawi. The company is "completely bootstrapped," Akkawi noted, and boasts a team of 10 employees that is growing.

Although many developers may address UX at the end of the development cycle, MSTQ takes a different approach. 

MSTQ works closely with clients to develop "a deep understanding of their multi-level marketing retail business and customer base," Akkawi stated. And MSTQ has been rewarded for its UX efforts thus far, too.

"I saw a need specifically for usability and user experience design and realized that the growing demand, in Chicago and nationwide, was not being met," Akkawi told FierceDeveloper. "After launching a marketing campaign for the MSTQ brand, we were immediately rewarded a large-scale software design account within the first month and have been growing ever since."

Akkawi said MSTQ's app workflow includes four steps:

  • Ideation: Involves the development of contextual strategies for briefing and design concept search
  • Observation: Requires quantitative and qualitative data analysis and the refinement of strategies through analog observation, client databases and ethnographic studies
  • Concept: "We deliver solution concepts in the form of wireframes, mock-ups and paper prototypes and package our solutions for engineering hand-off in design documentation," Akkawi said
  • Actuation: Involves the use of quantitative and qualitative methods to measure app success, enabling MSTQ to refine and improve UX

In addition, MSTQ maintains flexibility throughout the app development cycle.

"MSTQ explores the dynamic relation between technology and people through innovation and design to develop design systems for all screens, devices and physical spaces," Akkawi said. "MSTQ's process is inspired more by architectural strategies and conceptual design rather than traditional software design methodologies."

MSTQ and the challenges of app development

Delivering "an elite level of usability" serves as an ongoing challenge for MSTQ, but the company addresses that issue in part with extensive app testing.

Furthermore, MSTQ incorporates end user feedback into every stage of the app development cycle to ensure it can deploy ongoing UX enhancements.

"We sometimes find ourselves in client engagements after the app development process has already begun to tackle pre-existing usability problems for complex applications," Akkawi said. "We have a strong focus in user-centered design, and that's all we care about. It also helps that, although we are forward-thinking in our process, our team has decades of experience in software design that we can leverage."

Akkawi stated that MSTQ operates "more like an architecture firm rather than a traditional mobile app development firm" – something that has helped the company stand out from other app developers.

As such, MSTQ commonly leverages app design tools like Adobe Creative Suite and Sketch, along with concept communication and prototyping tools. Akkawi pointed out that MSTQ uses InVision, Framer.js and Principle for animations as well.

The Future of MSTQ

MSTQ said it continues to partner with companies and organizations "that use disruptive technology and value design." To date, MSTQ has served clients in many sectors, including:

  • Financial
  • Healthcare
  • Legal
  • Non-profit
  • Retail

The company also boasts expertise in a number of areas, such as:

  • Content and brand strategy
  • Internet of Things (IoT) design
  • Mobile apps
  • UX design
  • Web design

MSTQ continues to explore new opportunities., Akkawi pointed out that his company has utilized its human-centered design process to create two iOS apps and extend them to Amazon Echo and Apple TV over the past eight months.

Going forward, MSTQ remains focused on driving a human-centered approach, one that empowers end users to enjoy unparalleled UX. And with MSTQ's commitment to improving app usability, the company could enjoy growth across a variety of business segments.

"We are drawn to futuristic, ubiquitous technologies," Akkawi said. "We've positioned ourselves to apply our design methodologies to create meaningful, holistic applications that extend beyond screens into things such as wearables, smart homes and the IoT."