5

We're a huge company and develope a lot of apps and other services. So our target is to create a consistency over all the different applications to ensure a consistent brand-expirience.
So we created our main app which is available for iOS and Android. Both apps look nearly exactly identical.

But now came the question up, if we shouldn't focus on OS-conventions? The users are familiar with the OS-behaviour so the apps should follow the OS-conventions.

First I tried to find some studies about this topic.
I'm aware there is a similar question on UX SE "Design for Application consistency or follow OS convention?". But they're talking about consistency over Desktop & Mobile, and we focus on iOS vs. Android (not desktop), and we need source proof to close our discoussions. So I opened another question.
But in this question, they say:

Users know their devices, but not your app. That's why Snapchat is so hard to learn.

On the other hand, the NN group released a study with an opposite result:

A consistent user experience, regardless of platform, is one of the 4 key elements of a usable omnichannel experience. Consistency across channels helps build trust with customers.
Source

Sadly, I didn't found much more than that. Now I need your help.

We started to list up pro's and con's for Consistency vs. convention:

Consistency:

  • The user will know how to use the app, regardless of the OS.
  • We can focus on the user workflow with our services and don't need to create something maybe worst because of a OS-convention
  • It's cheaper because we only need to create 1 prototype and we only need to service one design.
  • We would need to redesign the app for every OS-guideline change, which will be much more expensive.

Convention:

  • The most users have either an iOS, or an Android device. So they don't care if the app is exactly consistent over the plattform. They only care about their device-version. So it should behave like the rest of the apps on this specific plattform

  • If we use conventions, it will be faster to develop the app since we can use standard elements.

What I need from you:
I'm interested in your opinion and additional pro/cons, but I need official sources to be able to share those to avoid "that's your opinion"-comments on the arguments.

I hope I made clear what I mean and what I need. If not, feel free to comment questions or edit this post.

4

In the book "Smashing Android UI: Responsive User Interfaces and Design Patterns for Android Phones and Tablets", by Juhani Lehtimaki, the recommendations are to follow the conventions that you mentioned. I.e. that users are not likely to own and use devices with different operating systems.

Personally, I agree. Users will be totally unaware of your efforts and may even be annoyed that your app does not work the way they expect it to in comparison with other apps on their device.

Link to Google Books

I only did a quick search and did not find any info on what other players (Apple for example) recommend.

Here is an excerpt from the book:

Unfortunately, all the large smartphone platforms are different. Android has its own design guidelines that you should follow. Users have certain expectations of how apps work and they will expect your app to work within these basic paradigms or otherwise will find it frustrationg and difficult.

The argument about brand consistensy over platform consistensy is also flawed. Users rarely own more than one smartphone, particularly ones running on different operating systems, at the same time. Users will, however, have multiple applications on their phone.

Here is a link to Android's design guidelines: https://developer.android.com/design/index.html

Also, I recommend considering how the app is consistent on devices of the same OS, but of different types/sizes, phone vs. tablet for example, including its responsiveness.

  • Thanks for this book, +1. We made internal some quick user tests with very basic prototypes. The first one was focused on cross-plattform consistency and the other focused on the OS conventions. The prototype which followed the conventions provided overall a faster recognition on what the user can do. So I'll try to convice the business to go with the OS-convention way, even it's more expensive. – Michael Schmidt Sep 14 '16 at 12:19
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I do believe you can combine both. No research to support this, but as I remember, most OS-guidelines are more in terms of where to put the close-button, technical and quality assurance, ... whereas you create a consistent brand-experience by using similar colors, logos, features, ...

0

Apart from the first sentence: "The user will know how to use the app, regardless of the OS", I can not se any other benefits from the users perspective. You're mainly focusing onto your own benefits as developers.

If your dev team instead did focus on your users and their needs and requirements, what would that list of pros/cons look like? At the end of the day, your users are your primary stakeholders. If a large percentage of your users starts filing complaints or perhaps even stops using your app due to bad UX, then what did you actually benefit from that consistency?

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