How About Adding That Elusive Human Touch To Your App

Apps With Human Touch

Wish your App could garner all the love in the world,  in the form of Glorious Good App Downloads and all? Possible. 100% Possible. Nope, we ain’t building castles in the air.  All you have to do is to get your app’s heart in place and get it throbbing. How? ”Course, by breathing some life into it! By adding that elusive human touch. That’s about it. Be assured, people will go all nutters about your app.

Yes, your app is not a paltry piece of software. And, if at all you consider it as one, only heavens can bail you out.

Nope, this is no laughing matter. If you really want your app to do well amongst a zillion of apps milling the almighty app store spaces, you would really have to rack your brains and concoct an awesome magical charm to make it cut above the rest… and we reckon that no other charm could be nearly as good as human touch. What say?

Yes, your ‘Apps Are Human.’ And only if you treat them as one, you will be never be discouraged. Forget about downloads, your app will become a monument of your organization’s existence for decades to come. And who knows, down the line your app would receive some sort of standing ovation and all.

A little Background

Johannes Gutenberg’s Printing Press

Adding human touch to things is not at all a newly discovered phenomenon. In fact, you could trace it back to the mid-fifteenth century when Johannes Gutenberg, the father of the printing press was completely taken in by this human facet. Going by the fact that most of the Bibles during that age was penned in hand, by monks specifically, using a quill and ink, Gutenberg did all that he can to mimic the same calligraphic style of the monks to the original typefaces of the printing machine. Transcribing Bible was a divine job and Gutenberg did his best to keep the presentation human.

Johannes Gutenberg, the father of the printing press

Gutenberg made it a point to mimic the style of monks in his print machinery

Maslow’s Law

Fine enough, Abraham Maslow’s theory of the hierarchy of human needs is old as a hill – squeezed for all its worth by marketing geeks of all ages. But, the fact of the matter remains that even now no theory is nearly as good as Maslow’s when it comes to human needs – theoretically or practically. It states self-actualization and self-esteem needs are far more important for a human being in the hierarchy than air, water, food, shelter and more.

maslows-hierarchy

Applying the same concept to mobile and web apps, the pyramid looks something like this:

maslow theory - in the UI context

Of course, the apps that we design should be thoroughly grounded in basics – functionality, reliability, and usability. But by far, the most importance aspect in terms of UI design is the ‘pleasure’ element. In fact, that should the kernel of every app. But, sadly, this element seems to be missing in most of our web and mobile apps.

Now, how do you exude pleasure when it comes to apps? That’s easy. Integrate pleasure elements such as jokes, emotional statements, emoji and more that would easily strike a chord with the audience. Apps that are already applying these techniques have achieved sky-rocketing popularity that several app makers can only dream of.

Taking a slight detour here: I was stopped dead in tracks on watching this brilliant video by Mark Malkoff from mydamnchannel.com. The video shows to what great lengths the Apple Store employees go on to build a human face for their products. How about yours?

Here goes our Handpicked Apps with Human Touch

1] Weightbot and Convertbot Apps

Weightbot and Convertbot Apps

Taking a cue from the movie WALL-E, Tapbot designed two heavyweight apps, ‘Weightbot and Convertbot’ to resemble physical robots. Make no mistake… these two are not entertainment or lifestyle apps. Made to look-like humans, the Convertbot app is designed to convert various units of measure while the Weightbot app tracks fluctuations in the body weight. Today, these apps have become the apps of choice for fitness freaks.

Weight tracking, more often than not, sucks. Doesn’t it? Simply because it drains off your confidence level. Knowing that he had a tough task at hand, Tapbot’s app designer Mark Jardine mindfully set-up an interface that somewhat resembled human robots. He even added eyes to the icons to make it more human.

Mark Jardine, TapBots Designer’s take on human touch for Weightbot and Convertbot

“Our concept for the first 2 apps was selling our apps as if they were physical robots. That’s why the icons resemble the interface. We also gave the icons eyes to humanize them a bit. But we use this idea as a selling point and not to distract the user in the actual app. We want our apps to be used seriously, but also give the sense that they are more than just a piece of software.

Users have reacted very positively to the robot caricature that got the much- required uplift in the form of bleeps, blips and more, and on top of it, users could easily compare the character traits of the caricature with WALL- E. Not surprisingly, the app design was a smashing hit and created a huge fan following.

Users shouldn’t just like your apps, they should fall for them head-over-heels. They should feel that they are interacting with another human being while they are using your app.

Long story short, Apps that could foster an emotional bond with the users generate universal users.

2. Ben The Bodyguard

BenTheBodyguard

This iPhone app is designed to protect your personal data on your phone. No doubt it’s functionality is something that makes it special, however, what makes it really the darling of the iPhone users is the character, Ben. Yes, it’s Ben who’s on guard 24/7 to protect your valuable data. In fact, long before the app was launched, the developer hosted Ben on the website and made him walk all across it. As in, as you scrolled down the website, you could feel Ben walking down the street shielding your data from intruders.

Little wonder, the French bodyguard has forced his way into the app as well. It would appear as if you are personally handing over your personal data to your self-appointed bodyguard Ben.

3. Cuddlr app

cuddlr app

Believe it or not, a Vancouver-based business Cuddlery that literally and not virtually offers that elusive human touch feeling, hold your breath, through soft cuddles and hugs. Yes, the entire  theme of the app oozes emotion, let alone the UI aspect of it.

How you may ask? The company has come up with an app called Cuddlr app which help users locate and connect with strangers close by for a free and platonic cuddle. The company offers cuddle sessions from 30 min to an hour with prices ranging from $35 to $350.

Why the need for a cuddler app? According to a recent research, strangers can help fill in the “belongingness need” of humans. And a cuddle with a stranger will no doubt be casual, but more importantly, it would come with no strings attached.

4. Feathers App

feathers app

Twitter iPhone app – Feathers – straddles the tightrope of functionality and pleasure with great dexterity. For instance, as you key in a tweet, a lovely blue birdy mascot appears that goes green with every alphabet you enter. And, once you touch the 140 character limit it goes red.

It’s said that users sometimes deliberately keep adding words, just to see the bird turning red.

Aral Balkan, designer/developer of Feathers take on the app’s UI

“Before your application can create an emotional relationship with the user it must get the basics right. The emotional relationship, the delight, is what you layer on top of this base usability and technical competency.”

5. Carbonmade Web App

Carbonmade Web App

Come on, don’t just add some human element for the heck it. It would sound all wishy-washy, namby-pamby. The audience will see right through you. And the worst part being such tactics backfire. As in, users may use it once, to check it out, and if it’s not worthy of their time and money, they’d never return.

So be genuine in your efforts while adding that elusive human touch to your UI.

Carbonmade, a brilliant web app, is used by people to design portfolios and also to spruce up the personality of their sites. How does it do that? By using an Octopi, Unicorn and mustachios the app adds an amazing  fun element to your UI, prompting designers and artists to go for the app without any second thoughts.

The app’s UI, in a way, misleads the competitors in believing that it’s an, all in all, a playful app… all frill and no substance. However, what the competitors failed to understand is that apps casualness is its selling point. The designer has actually tried his best to create a contrast by employing a ‘lighter approach.’ So, on the one hand, the concept is been pooh-poohed by its competitors, the users, on the other hand, seem completely bewitched by its UI concept.

Explaining his informal approach toward Carbonmade’s UI design, designer Dave Gorum says:

“The informality makes it super easy to open a dialogue with our audience. We’re like their goofy friend who’s really easy to talk to and can make them a sweet portfolio.

If anything, the smirking goofiness lets our competitors feel comfortable about not taking us seriously. Which is juuuuust fine.”

Carbonmades’ human touch is part of designer Dave Gorum’s brainwave. Though the concept received a phenomenal acceleration among users, it’s not imperative that every app UI will work that ways. Adding a bit of your personality trait will not always sit down well with the users. Conversely, it’s always better to tailor your human element as per the audiences’ expectations.

6. Everyday App

To play a video in the Everyday App, you need to add images in the library. In case, you haven’t, you get a friendly reminder which says “take some photos of your beautiful face.” One heart-warming word that could melt any users heart.

Final Thoughts:

Convention says that customer satisfaction counts. But research says that customer satisfaction is secondary. It’s the emotional connect that binds the customer with you forever. Research also adds that no fewer than 50% of the customers base their buying decisions on the strong emotional bond you establish with them rather than rational approaches, be it features and financials. So, I repeat my question to you once again:

Is your app’s heart in place? 

OpenXcell is a market leader in app development and app marketing. So, if in case you are pursuing any serious app development or marketing plans for your organization, OpenXcell will be happy to help. We have the experience and wherewithal to make your app a grand success.

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Jayneel Patel

Jayneel Patel

I am storyteller, marketer, developer, designer, thinker, enabler, rescuer, founder, CEO, whatever you call at OpenXcell and Orderhive. I do whatever best suits to my company. I love facing challenges, driving cars on muddy roads and giving surprises.