LivingSocial’s UI beats Groupon’s on iPhone

I am always intrigued by great iPhone app designs. There’s a website that has a bunch of examples of great app designs. So it got me thinking, I should do an analysis of the two most popular local daily deal sites, Groupon and Living Social, on the iPhone. Why not? Let the UI battle begin!

First up is LivingSocial. Overall, I like LivingSocial’s app more than Groupon’s app. I really like the way LivingSocial presents the deal details page (third screen). It is very clean with a lot of white space around the text. The price is big with the text color orange. I’ve always liked the color orange as a standout color (see my app Eventabulous). The best design element of the details page is the “buy now!” button. The button remains as a fixed footer when you scroll up and down. Also, the button is at the bottom where I can just use my thumb to tap the button. Lastly, I like that there are headings for each deal, short and sweet.

I do not like that the first page (first screen) doesn’t tell me any information about today’s deals. It’s basically a menu of items which I understand because it saves screen space on later screens. But I have to do a button click in order to see anything about deals when I first bring up the app. Don’t make me work to buy things. On the second screen, it’s not obvious to me that the city name “san jose” can be clicked on to switch to other cities. It can be easy to miss the small triangle on the right hand side indicating a drop-down box.

I recommend that LivingSocial assumes that users want to see “today’s deals” first and show “today’s deals” as the first screen. If users want “instant”, “escapes”, etc, they can hit the “home” back button (see second screen) to see the menu. Also, Living Social should consider having a “buy now!” button on the list of “today’s deals”. Why does a user need to see the details to buy the deal?

Next up is Groupon. You know that Groupon is great at selling because you can’t ignore the “Buy!” button everywhere. On the home page (first screen), it goes straight into the list of daily deals and from right there you can buy the first one only. I do like that Groupon attempts to highlight the savings of the deal more prominently than Living Social, but then again I assume all of the Groupon and Living Social deals are the best exclusive deals, so I don’t bother too much about the percentage saved. Maybe I should be more cautious about buying deals hahaha. I really like seeing discussions of the deals where people ask questions to the company. I didn’t see the same discussion feature in LivingSocial.

Unfortunately, Groupon has too much information in a small amount of space. It hurts my eyes looking at it. I can’t tell if it’s the amount of information or the size of the font. Another thing, I have to use my index finger to hit the “Buy!” button. Groupon has a “Buy!” button as a fixed header instead of as a fixed footer. I like one-handed navigation of apps. Lastly, I like the thought of the menu tabs on the details page (second screen), but on an iPhone, I am ok with scrolling to see all the information. Sometimes tapping disrupts the flow of information.

I suggest that Groupon leverage color as a way to highlight parts of a deal and they need to create more white space around their text. Less clutter is better.