I am an Android developer and enthusiast with over 10 years of Java development experience. I'm big fan of good design an appreciate well though usability design in applications. Juhani is a DZone MVB and is not an employee of DZone and has posted 110 posts at DZone. You can read more from them at their website. View Full User Profile
With the massive
numbers of Android apps in the market it is highly likely that every app
has at least two to three directly competing apps. In that situation
first impression might be the only chance for an app to convince users
that it is the app they should pick.
With paid apps the situation is even more critical. Under current
Android Market rules users can get automatic refund only if they return
the app within 15 minutes of installation. During that time users
will likely be overly critical of everything they see. Especially with
expensive apps pressure to return it for refund can be reasonably big
for the user.
Although first user experience is much more than just the app's first
launch (Market Place promotion material, icons, reputation, website,
etc) I'll concentrate on the first launch of the app in this post. So,
what are the dos and don'ts of first use experience?
Don't make users wait
If users download the app they are probably keen to try the app and see
what it can do. It is very unlikely that the users want to read about
apps functionality or user interface features. They just want to try the
For example Google Goggles first forces user to go through multiple
pages of app features before the user sees even a glimpse of the apps
Another way to make users feel that the app isn't letting them access it
is to use splash screen that takes long time to load. This example
app's splash screen can often take up to ten seconds before the app UI
loads. Instead of a long download and UI initialisation the app should
launch the app UI immediately and then start loading what is needed on
Don't offend users
Although I don't think users get confused by EULAs anymore they are very
disruptive and offensive. Try to avoid this being the first thing user
sees when he opens the app for the very first time.
Don't confuse users
First screen of the app should help users to understand how they can
perform the task the app's Market Place page promised. The following
example app has two major flaws. Firstly, it hides the status bar.
Secondly, the page is very confusing.
It is a note taking app. The page looks like a page from a note book and
users expect that they can start taking notes but that is not the case.
The page is actually a table of content page of an empty notebook. Only
function that user can perform is to press the plus icon on bottom left
Don't force users to login
I've written about this topic exhaustively so I won't repeat myself. Previous post about the topic can be found here and here.
Do provide content
When user first time launches an app that is meant to be used to consume
media or information the app should provide content by default. If the
app is empty the users won't directly be able to try any functionality.
Aldiko and pulse both do this thing very well. Aldiko comes with a free
book and pulse has a nice set of feeds preset from the first launch.
Do provide help in context
Instead of a tutorial screen it is much better to provide help in
context. YouTube app is a great example how to do this right. On the
first use user is gently notified by using custom toast popups about the