How the PostNL app resembles a mechanical watch

The old PostNL app was up for replacement. It was a hybrid app. We do that too sometimes, and so we know when to apply hybrid and when not to. In the case of PostNL, we found a native app a better match.

Native vs hybrid

For such a widely used, informative app it's wise to apply standard UI patterns that the user already knows. Because as a user, you want to quickly access the information you need. This means that the app usually not open for more then a few seconds. You would think that this makes it easy, but this particular scenario demands a well thought out solution. In those few seconds you do not want to ask yourself where the information you need is found or have to wait for information to be loaded in.

With native development you get these standard and well known UI components virtually for free. It is possible to simulate that in a hybrid app, but if you want develop an experience as smoothly as native (which a widely used app like that of PostNL deserves), it will be more expensive in the end than developing native apps for iOS and Android.

The PostNL app is a post office in your pocket

Simple is difficult

Complex on the other hand is very easy. With this we mean that it's hard to make an extensive app that is easy to use. And that it's easy to make it complex in use. Especially considering that the postal delivery services turns out to be surprisingly complex when you look behind the scenes. The happy flow alone has a lot of tracks. In one situation the first address must be mentioned, in the other situation the second, in again another situation the name cannot be mentioned, while this is crucial in another. Just to name a few examples. And we are not even talking about the unhappy flow yet. Which is the flow that we at Q find just as important.

The trick is to hide all of this complexity from the user. Just like a mechanical watch, the PostNL app offers a simpel screen with an explosion of complexity hidden behind it.

Complex interior, simple interface

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