Wednesday, 30 October 2013

How Following Android Guidelines Can Change Users' Perception of Your App

Sometimes when installing random apps from Google Play I run into apps that are great positive surprises and stand out from the masses. In this case this app isn't mind blowing or anything like that but it is a good, simple to use and very much an Android app. I'm talking about Hotel Search HRS app.

But before we delve in I want to note that I am in no way associated either with the app developer or the company. Many of the comments in this post are based on educated guess based on the data publicly available.

What made this app interesting was that there seemed to be two of the same apps in the Play Store with different package name and one of the apps with postfix "new" in the name. After digging a bit more it became clear that they have had an app before that have been very unsuccessful. Unfortunately I was not able to find the previous app anymore as they've updated the old app to the new version as well but fortunately AndroidPit still had screenshots of the old app.

Here's how the app used to look like (screenshots by AndroidPit).

Screenshots by AndroidPit

The app reviews tell a grim story about the user reception the previous version had.


Some of my favourite quotes from the user reviews:
"the hitler of mobile apps"
"Worst app ever"
"Good for nothing app Worst app ever made"
"Absolutely Crap"

It also looks like that some carrier or OEM has forced this app on phones without allowing users to uninstall it. It just looks bad on so many levels.



New app

Fortunately the company behind this app has now taken the hint and understood that what they had simply was not cutting it. They have now created a new app. This time the app is clearly built by a team that knew what they were doing. This must have been a team of designers and developers who understood the Android platform and knew how to build for it. The result is good.

Here's how the app looks like now (or you can try it yourself Google Play link):


Now, we're not talking about revolutionary UI design. It certainly isn't a Timely class app but I think that is what makes this app a great example to businesses. The app simply follows Android design guidelines, uses default components and is generally well structured and designed. Users are likely to understand how to use the app without thinking. While the development most likely wasn't cheap it probably wasn't extremely costly either. The level of quality, usability and especially Androidiness is possible for any company willing to do it.

Here's how the new app reviews look at the time of writing this:



The sad thing is that the previous app had 1,000,000 - 5,000,000 installs on Google Play. The company was forced to create another app to get rid of the extremely bad reviews. I wish that Google Play would allow developers to correct their mistakes and help the developer improve their app ratings by releasing new app versions but that is currently not the case. 

As a conclusion I would like to say and use this app as a cautionary example of the damage done to any brand that choses to release bad apps and and ignore the platform guidelines. In the worst case it might mean that you will have to start from the ground up later on to gain any credibility.

Here's more screenshots of the new app version. Tip of the hat to the company behind this for making the bold step and to the developers and designers involved for doing excellent work!