Build it! App Navigation

We invited our founding members to participate in a usability study, sharing early versions of the bottom navigation icons for our app.  We’ve compiled the results and are ready to share them, as well as revealing what the icons actually mean!

The first thing you might be wondering is: why spend all this time and effort on icons? True, we could just copy and paste from someone else and call it a day. In fact, that’s often the best way to handle things when you need to convey information quickly using only an icon. A gear means “settings”, a house means “home” and a speech bubble means “chat”. 

If only it were that simple for every icon! Take a look at these icons from popular apps - can tell what each one of these does without opening up the app to check? I think for the most part you could guess, and knowing which app would help. Still, about half of these apps chose to label their icons to be safe! (Note: I removed the labels for this post.)


Figure 1: Icons!

(I’m still not clear what the second Reddit icon does and it’s only thanks to this research that I found out they have a chat feature!)


Survey Questions

Before we dive into the results of our survey, let’s look at the questions we asked.

Question #1 - Robot Blocker
“Are you ready to rock this survey?”
Just over 97% responded “Yes!”, and sadly we discovered that one of our very own team members responded with a negative… thanks a lot, Renuka!

Question #2 - Icon Recognition
“What do you think these icons represent?” 
This one is important because it’s about the icon being recognizable.  Literally, “what is this a picture of?” Imagine an image editing app with an icon that’s supposed to look like a trash can but everyone sees a paint bucket. There would definitely be some clicks that end in tears.

Question #3 - Icon Comprehension
“What do you think would happen if you tapped these icons in the dotmobile app?”
This one needs more context and is testing how well the icon represents its function or feature.  If the icon looks like a photograph you expect to see images when you tap it, for example. On the other hand, a plus sign makes you think of “adding” something, but what you’re adding is entirely based on what app you’re using and where you are in the app.


  Icon 1 - Wireless Services

What it is: We aren’t building new towers - there’s enough already.  Instead, our own cloud-core will power innovative new services on existing wireless networks. This is where you will go to subscribe to a plan, see your usage, manage your cost controls, and even disconnect.

 
WIRELESS SERVICE
 
 

Recognition

 

Comprehension

 
 

Wireless/Network

76%

 

Network Options

17%

 
 

I don't know

12%

 

Signal Strength

11%

 
 

Other

12%

 

Available Networks

9%

 
 

Total

100%

 

Antenna on/off

8%

 
       

I don’t know

15%

 
       

Other

40%

 
       

Total

100%

 


What you thought it was:
It started off well, with three out of four response agreeing that this icon had something to do with wireless service. Comprehension was another story, with the biggest response category being ‘Other’ with one respondent thinking that tapping this icon would make something vibrate. In general, though, most responses were still about network options and choices, so overall this one is a winner.

LEARN MORE


  Icon 2 - Marketplace

What it is: We don’t want to sell you a new phone if you’re happy with the one you already have - instead, let’s find ways for you to get the most out of it. Here, you will easily find an affordable selection of accessories and services for your phone without digging through endless search results and reviews or worrying about compatibility.

 
MARKETPLACE
 
 

Recognition

 

Comprehension

 
 

Store/Market

74%

 

Store

52%

 
 

Home

9%

 

Data Plans

13%

 
 

I don't know

9%

 

Map of Stores

13%

 
 

Other

8%

 

I don’t know

3%

 
 

Total

100%

 

Other

19%

 
       

Total

100%

 


What you thought it was:
In general, another solid performer with the majority of people recognizing this as a store or market of some kind, and comprehension was similarly high. Unfortunately is scored second from last for how much everyone liked it, saying it was boring or uninspired.  

We politely disagree! One person thought it looked like a muffin, and everyone loves muffins. Another thought it was a moustache store and if you tapped on it a moustache would dance on the screen! How dare you say this moustache market is uninspired! :)

LEARN MORE


  Icon 3 - Home Screen

What it is: Everything a wireless provider can do will be inside the app, so we’re building a smart homepage to tie it all together. Notifications and key information will be intelligently delivered on the homepage and you can dive in deeper to any of them for more information, or jump directly to a specific feature at any time.

 
HOME
 
 

Recognition

 

Comprehension

 
 

Home

30%

 

Home

48%

 
 

I don't know

32%

 

I don't know

13%

 
 

Other

38%

 

Stop services

8%

 
 

Total

100%

 

Call

3%

 
       

Other

27%

 
       

Total

100%

 


What you thought it was:
Well, some people got the idea that this goes to the home screen in the app, but it also looks like not everyone recognized this a circle, though some people did say that tapping it would “go to the circle”. It also scored dead last in the looks department. Some people just don’t appreciate Pi, I guess. 

LEARN MORE


  Icon 4 - Connectivity Intelligence

What it is: Speed tests are a snapshot in time and don’t reflect your actual connectivity experience. Here, you can choose from a number of settings to monitor the quality of your connectivity in the background without running speed tests. GPS data will combine with your phones built-in measurements to better understand if your wireless service provider is delivering on their promise.

 
CONNECTIVITY INTELLIGENCE
 
 

Recognition

 

Comprehension

 
 

Data Plans

46%

 

Data Usage

42%

 
 

Data Speed

32%

 

Speed Test

38%

 
 

Other

22%

 

Other

20%

 
 

Total

100%

 

Total

100%

 


What you thought it was:
Usage and speed came up often and so the speedometer styling worked in this case. An easy win here, despite a few people thinking it had to do with battery level.  Moving on.

LEARN MORE


  Icon 5 - AI Chat & Support

What is it: Since we won’t have a call centre or store you’ll find all the help you need right here.  An AI chatbot will help answer questions and you can also send a support ticket to let us know if something isn’t right.  We hope that you won’t need much help, though, because our plans are simple, you can manage your budget with cost controls, and even disconnecting completely is only a few taps away.

 
AI CHAT & SUPPORT
 
 

Recognition

 

Comprehension

 
 

Help/Support

55%

 

Help/Support

61%

 
 

FAQ/Questions

26%

 

FAQ/Questions

18%

 
 

Chat

10%

 

Live Chat

17%

 
 

Messages

6%

 

Other

5%

 
 

Other

3%

 

Total

100%

 
 

Total

100%

       


What you thought it was:
The question mark really helped sell this one and most everyone figured that this is where the help and support will live. Almost 1 in 5 responses thought this would be for live chat, though. Given the experience I’ve had in customer operations, I can tell you that most interactions have a few outcomes.

The first outcome is easy to replicate in the app - answering a question or assisting with a transaction or account change.  The reason most people need help with these things is that products, pricing and services offered by big telecoms are very complicated.  Plus, there are some transactions (like cancelling) that they don’t want you to do, so they make it a long and difficult process.

The other outcome is that a customer service representative puts a bunch of information into a form and then a network engineer or IT support professional looks into it and does the hard work to solve the problem.  Since the app is on your phone we can automate a lot of this process and make sure that none of what you’re saying gets lost in translation or left out of the notes. Get the info to the pros quickly and let them do the work.


Final thoughts

This early testing will influence how we approach iconography elsewhere and push us to improve on our core navigation experience. We all wish that these icons had been scored a 5/5 for their style and good looks, but beyond personal taste, we think we’re on the right track.

Be sure to check out all the features on our Build It! page and add your upvotes or comments, we want to build this for you, our members, instead of the other way around.

Comments
DAVE NOAD
14:19 12/03

Their is already a Dotmobile App in the Google Play Store, what will you be calling the App in the Play Store

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