Two Roads Diverged: Why Redundant Paths in Apps Make All the Difference

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Will Breen
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Did you know some people think there should be just one way to do things in an app? Having a few different ways to use important parts of an app can actually make it easier to handle.

There's a myth that goes like this: "Having extra paths is a waste." It's the idea that if an app lets you do the same thing in different ways, it's too much and can make the app look all jumbled up.

But let's think about this a bit more.

People usually say that the best way to use an app is to follow one straight road to what you want. But sometimes, making things too simple can be, well, too simple!

I remember feeling a bit bothered when Amazon kept asking me to check out every time I added something to my cart. But then I realized that when you shop on Amazon, different people decide when they're ready to buy in different ways. So, having a "check out now" button pop up every time you look at something means Amazon is making sure you can buy it whenever you want.

Some shoppers are in a hurry, while others like to look at everything in their cart first. Amazon's job is to figure out when someone's ready to make a move. They make sure that you've always got a way to finish buying your stuff whenever you feel like it.

Having these extra paths means everyone can find their way through an app super easily. Just having one way to do things is like going to a theme park with only one ride.

Instead, I give users a few choices to get things done. I think about what they want to do and map out the steps to get there. And at each step, give them a shortcut, like a big, easy-to-see action, to move on to the next thing.

Here's what you can do:

  • Check out all the steps yourself. Pretend you're using the app for the first time and see how long it takes.
  • Think about what you want to happen at the end, and make sure there's an easy way to get there from anywhere in the app.
  • Put a big, clear button or link on every page so users can easily do what they want, anytime they're ready.

It's like if I only give people one way to use a feature, it's like I'm giving them homework.

Bust this myth by giving users clear, easy actions that get them where they want to go. Keep them happy, and they'll want to come back for more fun with your app!