Android design guidelines, UX and product management – a recipe for success at 22Seven

By Philip Langley

22seven has been on a mission to help South Africans get control of their finances and their long-awaited new Android app is out to help. By securely connecting to your bank accounts, home loans and investments and categorising your transactions, they make it easy to see patterns in your spending. Flow has been working with 22seven for some time and we’re helping them usability test the new app.

I’ve been using 22seven for about 6 months now and I’ve found it enormously helpful to know how little money I have. Just the fact that I can check my balance without having to log in to three different bank accounts is worth the R25/month fee. And as an fanatical Android user, I’m so glad to finally see such a well-designed app being made in South Africa.

money hub

I spoke to 22seven Android developer Alex Koller about how they made their app a success. He told me it was a combination of user-centred design process, good product management, and sensible use of the Android Design Guidelines.

User-centred design

22seven’s process included:

  • User research. 22seven have been getting to know their users via research and usability test for months and all of that insight was available to the Android team when they started development.
  • Building a disposable app to explore concepts. Doing a concept design phase (in code – that’s their medium) meant they could explore the best ideas without being tied down to their first one.
  • Prioritising the core functions that users need most. Good software does a few things well rather than lots of things badly.
  • User testing and iteration both in closed beta (with a private Google+ community using the Android beta test platform) and in usability tests at Flow.
  • Using Google Analytics for usage data. The app logs key metrics which the team checks regularly.

user testing 22seven android app

Android Design Guidelines

The 22seven app is also successful because it makes good use of the Android Design Guidelines. Jakob Nielsen, the original usability guru, says: “Users spend most of their time on other websites,” and the same is true of apps. Android users get used to interaction patterns from other common apps, so when your app follows the same patterns, users know how to use it from the moment they touch it.

Making use of the design guidelines also makes apps feel like more native to the OS. “If you want your Android users to hate your app, then convert from iOS.” says Alex Koller. Even Foursquare, who were doing the best job at maintaining a single design from Android and iOS, has acknowledged this. Their latest Android app features a navigation drawer.

The key guidelines 22seven used when building the app:

  • The navigation drawer showing both top-level and secondary navigation options. At Flow we’re seeing that not all users have got the hang of using this yet. But with all of Google’s apps using it and with Samsung’s upcoming use of it, we’re confident that it will become second-nature.

nav

  • Action bar holding global functions like add bank account and specific functions like categorise transaction.
  • Multiselect to enable people to select and categorise lots of bank transactions. Here 22seven didn’t stick to the guideline completely. 22seven know that the best way to categorise transactions is in batches, rather than one at a time.  So they’ve made it that a tap OR a long tap on a transaction will trigger multiselect mode. There’s a clear rationale behind their choice and it works really well at teaching people the best way to categorise in 22seven.

multiselect

Alex points out that sticking to the guidelines also meant that they could use standard UI components. If you don’t re-invent the wheel, you save a lot of time.

The new 22seven Android app is a great example of how to do it right, using a user-centred iterative process and standards compliant design.

Download the 22seven Android App. Tell us what you think on Google+ or Twitter.