This post is part 2 of a Q&A with Jeff Fan, Quixey’s Principal Designer. Today he talks about some of the new features on Quixey.com.
Throughout our user testing, we noticed a pattern amongst a majority of our users. When evaluating apps, users usually look at screenshots before descriptions or reviews. Screenshots communicate function, quality, and design much quicker — show, don’t tell. Thus they’re a much better representation of an app than a body of text.
With this knowledge, it makes sense to show users screenshots earlier in the interface, as opposed to after selecting an app. That thinking inspired Tile View, and the results were overwhelmingly positive. Users reported that it was easier to digest more apps in less time and quickly identify those that interested them. This format proved to be especially powerful when searching for apps that are highly visual. “Games for kids” is an excellent example of this:
It’s important to recognize that Tile View isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Certain categories of apps rely more heavily on their functionality rather than their visual UI. “Receipt trackers” or “mortgage calculators” are less visually appealing than gaming apps by nature. But this does not mean they are less useful to users. For this reason, we felt it important to also maintain a List View that gives focus to app descriptions.
Certain aspects of our desktop site outperformed our mobile site. You could see more apps at once, the site’s performance was faster, navigation was intuitive, typing was natural, and the content was easier to consume. There’s a lot to be admired about the larger form factor, however, it’s unnatural to go to a desktop site when seeking a mobile app. It simply makes sense to find mobile apps using a mobile device.
How could we keep the benefits of the large form factor but still keep the convenience of the mobile device? We introduced Send-to-Phone to fix this very problem. Now, instead of being sent to the desktop app store, users can text an app directly to their phones, removing the need to retype an app into their phone’s app search bar. There’s plenty left to be done in cross-device interactions, but Send-to-Phone is a great step toward breaking those boundaries.
When designing interfaces, it’s important to consider the ergonomics of how users interact with their devices. In the case of responsive design, you need to simultaneously consider 3 different sets of ergonomics – mobile, tablet, and desktop. Each form factor has a unique set of characteristics: hand positions, touch vs cursor input, usage, keyboard support, voice support, environments, etc.
On our app detail page, we introduced left/right buttons for users to easily navigate to the previous/next app in the list. This prevents the tedious behavior of having to repeatedly click into and back out of a search result. We purposely positioned these buttons right where the user’s thumbs naturally rest when holding a tablet. This prevents them from having to reposition their hands or stretch their thumbs. Similarly, on desktop, we enabled the use of the left/right keyboard arrows to easily navigate between apps.
One of the unique aspects of Quixey’s search engine is that we merge multiple “versions” of the same app. For example, Angry Birds Free is merged with Angry Birds ($0.99). This allows users to see more unique app results rather than repeats of the same app at different price options. To demonstrate this concept, we designed stacked cards to visualize apps with multiple versions. Clicking on the drop-down arrow on the bottom right will expose all available versions.
And Many More
We’ve only discussed a handful of the new features we’ve introduced into the new Quixey web app. Others include a Trending list, Browse categories, Sample search queries, Bookmarks, Multi-Locale and many more. This was a huge cross-functional effort from our team, including:
Product Management: Jeff Fan, Jae Park, Julia Lipton, Phillip Lam, Victor Tran, Paresh Vakhariya
Engineering, Program Management, and Testing: Russel Reed, Marshall Quander, Charlie Chung, Emily Lam, Michael Cuff, Rhonda Karp, Khuong Nguyen, Lisa Rutta, Konstantin Novoselov
Production Ops: Akshay Dayal, Adam Gray, Jaeik Song
3Magine: Evan Cancelliere, Krystian Frencel
We hope our users enjoy these new features as we continue to listen to their feedback and improve our app search products.
Curious about any of the features not covered here? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and he’d be happy to answer your questions!