While digging into app UX theory, it’s likely you’ve heard the words “contextual design” and “contextual prompts” tossed around. But what does that mean? Simply put, contextual design is a way of designing your app wherein your app interacts with your user based on the “context” of the user.
This exists in contrast to static content, which will always be the same no matter the context of the user. Contextual prompts, more specifically—a subset of contextual design—are prompts for actions to complete that are presented to the user based on context.
Products like Nickelled can help you create contextual prompts to guide your users through your app in a variety of ways, effectively introducing them to new behavior and increasing user satisfaction by allowing them to better use the app’s full feature set.
Contextual prompts can be a fantastic way to improve user experience and engage users more fully in all your app has to offer; this can in turn lead to better user retention and usage of a broader set of your app features. Here’s a run-through of six ways you can include contextual prompts in your app.
One way you could include contextual prompts in your app is by providing prompts for in-app action when the user is in the midst of a given activity. These prompts can be alert-based or tour-based like Nickelled’s automated tour structure.
A great example of this is Ghost’s masterful use of its onboarding flow to increase conversions to increase its conversions by up to 1,000%. It did this by identifying how long-time users initially interacted with the platform. They’ve realized that users who added a custom theme to their blog converted the highest.
Instead of relying upon a faulty assumption of what the “aha” moment that turns first-time users into loyal customers would be, Ghost looked into their data. In fact, the main “aha” moment wasn’t the users publishing their first blog post as Ghost had thought, but it was when users added a custom theme to their website!
Another example is if your app is made for tracking runs, a contextual prompt you might have is prompting the user to track their run whenever GPS detects that they are moving at a running speed.
This kind of contextual prompt is particularly useful for apps used in concert with a specific activity that can be detected by phone sensors or by data the app collects.
Event-based contextual prompts are, naturally, prompts that occur when a relevant event has occurred. App events include the moment a user engages on the platform, uploads/downloads a file, goes to a certain page, and so on.
Dropbox has a great way for introducing its event-based download prompts. Desktop users that use Dropbox through a browser gets this prompt once they use the platform’s sharing options:
This event-based prompt is timely and has relevant messaging that basically urges the user to download the desktop app to share files in a better way.
This kind of prompt doesn’t need to occur when the user is using the app—Nickelled can provide off-site launchers that propel the user into exploring the app from anywhere.
This kind of contextual prompt might be suitable for apps who frequently—but not constantly—update their content with new, interesting material that users would want to be alerted of quickly.
Another set of contextual prompts are role-based prompts; these prompts are used to prompt the user to perform certain actions based on what “role” they are performing in the app.
An example of this is a marketplace app where users are prompted to either buy or sell based on whether they are in a buying or selling view. For instance, when you inquire about the availability of a product on Facebook, the platform offers a list of predefined questions to include in the message:
Naturally, this kind of contextual prompt is suitable for apps where possible behaviors are very different depending on what role the user is currently performing, and prompting them may help them to discover new behaviors if they are in a new view.
The behavior-based contextual prompt is used to prompt the user to complete certain actions based on their recent behaviors. For example, you might prompt the user to do something in particular, or to discover a new feature, if they have recently been using the app more or less than usual.
If this use case sounds relevant to you, Nickelled can provide behavior that utilizes this kind of contextual prompt, showing users a launcher to tour new features on the app under certain circumstances, including infrequent usage.
This kind of contextual prompt can be suitable for nearly every app, but is most suitable for apps that depend on frequent usage and also have enough data to know details of user behavior on a granular level.
LinkedIn has a great way of using behavior-based tactics to optimize its Help section. Depending from where the user accesses the Help Center, LinkedIn resurfaces relevant question based on the previous page(s) they were in:
The Quick Help prompt answers relevant questions in advance. The left window shows questions based on sharing content on LinkedIn, while the right one shows related to LinkedIn user data.
The Quick Help prompt can also be determined by the user role and their behaviors on the app. For example, job seekers see relevant job seeker questions, and recruiters see top recruiter questions relevant to their past behavior.
Another way to incorporate contextual prompts in your app is via time-based contextual prompts. These are prompts that ask the user to complete actions at certain times of the day or week.
An example of an app that might utilize this kind of contextual prompt might be a meal-tracking app that prompts users to track their consumption at meal times.
This kind of contextual prompt would be suitable for apps that have consistently high traffic—with well-defined use cases—at certain times of the day, but low traffic and/or varied use cases at other times.
Contextual prompts can also be based off of the location of the user. This location can be something very broad, like a city, or something very narrow, like a specific store.
An app that might use this kind of contextual prompt include an app for a café that prompts you to order when you are near its location.
This kind of contextual prompt would be appropriate for apps whose behavior is centered around visiting specific or new locations, particularly when it is meant to prompt discovery of locations or behaviors that might not already be known to the user.
Perhaps, the most popular example for this is Google Maps. If you have not noticed, Google Maps sometimes prompts you to leave reviews of the places you’ve been to.
Not only that, if you use public transport such as buses and trains often, Google Maps urges you to rate how busy the public transport was.
Another app that relies on location-based prompt is Foursquare:
Location-based prompts can be an effective way to drive up user engagement through feedback.
Give Contextual Prompts a Try
Overall, contextual design—and contextual prompts in particular—can be a great way to engage users further with your app, and to encourage more thorough and more consistent usage.
There are some overlaps between the different contextual prompts mentioned here. For example, the role of a user can also define their behavior. But what’s important to understand is what kinds of prompts to prioritize to make them relevant. While Ghost’s main goal was to increase conversions from their first-time users, they looked into data on their activities and, to a lesser extent, behaviours to create effective prompts that drove up conversions.
Whatever you need these prompts for, Nickelled can help you integrate contextual prompts into your app! After all, static content is far less engaging than contextual content, and as you shape your app’s future, including more contextual prompts to behavior should be something to consider as part of your strategy.