Better UX is almost never rocket science.  In fact it’s usually the sure steady process of applying established patterns to your domain and making sure the result is what customers expect.

Whether you deal in mufflers, shirts or podcasts, you don’t have to start from scratch when you build a digital experience.  Users already bring with them a storehouse of familiar interaction behaviors.  They expect certain things from search, list, navigation and checkout in your product – as they do anywhere else.

Think of these expected microinteractions as a language your customer already speaks.  Unless you can improve upon the standard (and not many of us get to invent a groundbreaking “like” or “swipe right” interaction), go with the established lingo.

Usability speed bumps reveal themselves when you use a product.  That’s why we test.  These small moments of friction that could be better are not limited to new apps you’ve never heard of.  And you don’t have to be a Steve Krug level usability ninja to spot them.  They occur everywhere.  Even in the very biggest apps.

Here’s an example from podcast giant Overcast.fm.

No one likes to be moved around at random.  That’s true in physical and virtual contexts.  Customers want to move when they take action and decide to move – yes.  But if they’re in the middle of a flow, they expect to stay where they are.  Even if some intrepid adventurers branch off to do something else first, when they come back from that mission (assuming they ever do), they expect to be right where they were before.

One of the highest traveled paths in Overcast is searching for and subscribing to podcasts.  After you enter in your search terms, possible matches come back.  You then tap on one to subscribe.

The problem with the current flow is that after you subscribe to a podcast you’ve found, the app returns you not one screen back to your list of search results (where there may be other podcasts you want to subscribe to as well), but all the way back to the beginning of a new search.

Huh?  It’s a little bumpy.

Say there was more than one match you wanted to subscribe to.  You’d have to enter in your same search terms again to get back to viewing the results where you were a moment ago.  Not the end of the world as we know it.  But it could be better.

The solution: After subscribing to a podcast, return the user to where they were before – looking at the list of podcasts that match the search terms they entered.

You can watch the current flow in this video.  Or see screen shots below.

In the current flow to add a new podcast everything works great up to the moment of selecting a podcast to subscribe to.

Screen 1 – Home

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Screen 2 – Search

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Screen 3 – Results for entered search terms (up to 4 possible matches)

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Screen 4 – Subscribing to the first result in the list

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Screen 5 – Wuh?  Here’s the problem.  After subscribing, you’re sent back to the top of search (identical to screen 2).  And your search terms are gone.

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HOW IT SHOULD BE

Instead, after subscribing to a podcast you should return to the previous list of search results – now with a visual indicator that shows you which ones you are already subscribed to.

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