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I'm building an application that caters to a specific set of people for example construction workers [edit: removed "students, or coffee drinkers"]. So for instance, an app for construction workers that can handle photo annotation for pipes, logging their working hours, viewing a blueprint, and contacting city officials for permits.

After some interviews, I've found that they want 6 features. Each of these features could be an app on its own. Some people might use two of 6 features while others use all of them

My question is: will combining all the features into one app introduce extra pain for my users that only use one thing in the app?

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    how different are the features? it's difficult to give an answer without slightly more specifics. is it like Facebook where you have timeline/messenger/live/events etc, or more disparate thatn that? – Midas May 4 '16 at 17:11
  • They're quite different but related toward that subset of people. I'll use construction workers as an example. One feature might be to measure levels, one to annotate a photo of piping, another enters your hours and logs GPS coordinates, and finally one that views a blueprint and contact the architect. – jonmecer May 4 '16 at 17:18
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    got you, and they aren't necessarily steps in a flow? so a user may just use one feature per interaction, and another user might use multiple features? – Midas May 4 '16 at 17:28
  • Yes. They're not steps in a flow. A user can choose to use one feature or multiple. – jonmecer May 4 '16 at 17:40
  • I can't work out the common thread here. What exactly is it about all these users (and features) that connects them in way that you would consider combining them all into one app? – dennislees May 4 '16 at 18:32
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I've actually been involved in something similar, and with more than six in one. In the end we went with the approach of having the main home screen of the app display an icon and label for each of the apps. This main screen also provided navigation to the overall help page and overall settings page. Below is a rough mockup of how it was designed:

enter image description here

I say "overall settings" because the settings icon at top right was for things like using iCloud, Backing up to Dropbox, Passcode Lock, Theme Colour, App Screen Layout, etc. In other words, settings that were for the entire app as a whole.

The "overall help" was just about the main app screen and what some of the overall settings meant.

Once the user tapped on each of the app options, the resulting screen also had an option for them to navigate back to the main "Apps" screen. And, depending on the app, they may have also had a dedicated 'help' or 'settings' screen.

Of course, in your case it may not need to be this advanced, but the point of sharing my example is because this works. User feedback has been extremely positive and this design is something that has evolved over time based on user feedback.

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That sounds like 6 different apps to me. My mental model of an "app" is more focused than the use case you describe.

Pretending I'm the target audience you mention in the comment on your post, I would likely think "I need to open my photo app to annotate this image" or "I need to log my hours and check-in to my work site on my timesheet app."

Folders on my phone will help me logically group these under a "Work" folder if I so choose. The app's developer need not be in control of that. To me, it seems less natural to think "I need to do something work related, so I'm going to open my 'construction app'."

This would also allow me to prioritize which apps I want taking up space on my phone instead of one giant app.

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If done intuitively you might avoid "extra pain" for users by exploring the following approach:

For one app offering a group of users – let's say construction workers – multiple task-based features, only display relevant features based on the type of construction worker. The user could identify this via a first-time setup process, or perhaps the process is facilitated by an administrator using role-based authorization.

The goal is to provide the user only a UI that is applicable to their needs.

Additionally, the user should be able to add/remove features or make such requests to an admin as their job requirements change.

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