We all have a powerful keyboard already built-in and it just delivers pretty much everything starting from the predictive text capability to an expressive variety of emojis we need so often to mean something with cute little pics. But even then, the importance and appeal of extended keyboard apps just stand out, but why?
Before answering this question point blank let us just concentrates on the way user experience with keyboard evolved. A whole generation already bored with typing words on their devices suddenly leaped up in spirit with the introduction of predictive text which offered them great respite while writing a dense body of text. But that was just the beginning. Soon, we were offered more fun with little graphic images to replicate certain words and emotions.
Now, these emojis became quite a key element for our quick typing endeavors whether in social posts or chat rooms. But it just did not stop there. Emojis continued to evolve and become better and more expressive. Soon, we had even GIFs ready to use right from the keyboard.
So, we have almost come a full circle with the evolution of modern keyboard. To add more spice to the user experience and a touch of personalization now you have a whole array of keyboard apps allowing extension of your existing keyboard. While many of these keyboard extensions are quite popular, almost all of them lack a thing or two that can make their UX even more entertaining.
Meeting the expectations
Back in 2014, when Apple with its iOS platform for the first time allowed third-party mobile app developers to build extended keyboard apps, it was like an attractive new kid on the block. Back then, users could replace their existing keyboards with these third-party extensions, and they were also allowed to use them side by side with their existing de-facto ones.
Keyboard extensions were a welcome move for users in general with the typing experience always becoming a notch more customised. But many of these apps suffer specifically from some onboarding problems as users most of the time find them clueless as for how to use them. With most such keyboards first-time user experience remained a challenge.
But users when venturing to use new keyboard users should find it as a gift that can contribute to their typing experience, not just a wishful replacement for the de-facto keyboard. To make them realize the worth of their decision to install the new keyboard and to retain them onboard, an easy first-time user experience is crucial.
Here are some ways keyboard extension apps can boost retention and continued engagement.
Offering a more powerful predictive text function
A keyboard extension coming with a predictive text function must provide things over and above the abilities already there with the default predictive text. A regular predictive text that does not learn from the user inputs over time and does not provide a self-correcting local dictionary option is already a thing of the past.
Moreover, the modern predictive text needs to adjust to user’s use of words and contexts over time and accordingly give priority to words and phrases used often or repeatedly. Auto correction feature is just right with every such keyboard as long as they can be turned on or off as per user needs.
Just think of a regional language speaker type-chatting using English keyboard. You must allow him turning off the local dictionary update and auto-correction just with the tap of a button. The powerful predictive text is all about learning individual user contexts and use of words over time and quicker it can adjust to individual user the better it is for the keyboard app.
A smooth onboarding for the first time user
Most users who download keyboard extensions are voracious text chatters who are always on the lookout for funnier emojis to flaunt a quick and unique expression. On the other hand, there can only be handful users who download such keywords for more powerful typing experience, but they can be your long-term and most engaged users. The onboarding experience of your keyboard extension app should be appealing and smooth enough for both types of users.
Detailed instructions on how to install the extension and use it in conjunction with your default keyboard, are important for all users who are using these keyboard apps for the first time. But since, young users who frequently use emojis right from their device may already know about using such extensions, always allow them to skip instructions. To make things smooth always offer a ‘How to’ list for installing the new extension.
A short video guiding the installation process
These days users most of the times revert to YouTube or elsewhere for a quick bite into the instructions for anything to setup or install. Being fully aware of this phenomenon, you can offer them a short video not exceeding 30 seconds in length to explain the steps related to the installation of the keyboard extension and its usability. It can be a great way to improve onboarding if your visuals just help them remember each step quite clearly.
Guiding users through pop-up messages
For a user switching back and forth between an instruction video and the settings is an annoying problem. For first time users, such annoyance can lead to a straightforward drop-off. Many apps for a smoother onboarding rather prefer popup messages that come subsequently from one step to another guiding you throughout the installation process. Just beginning with a popup that says ‘Go to Settings’ followed by another popup after 3 seconds that says “Tap on General” and subsequently another saying “Tap on Keyboard” and so on. Thus you end up installing the whole extension without much of confusion.
Finally, the whole difficulty and complexity involved in installing a keyboard extension app can only be taken with a positive spirit when you can show the value of your keyboard app. Except for a good onboarding experience, packing it with powerful predictive text, emojis, and quick access features is extremely important for user retention over a longer period of time.