Something so important it could make or break your app. That’s right, I’m talking about mobile app design. The way your app is designed is one of the most important aspects of the app development process, because it dictates how your users interact with your app.
We’re going to breakdown this post into three sections:
Mobile app design
Why it’s so important
Plus, how to make sure you have the best design possible
I’ll give you vital information that could mean the difference between an app that sells through the roof and one that completely flops.
Let’s dive in!
What is Mobile App Design?
Before we get much further, it’s important to understand just what I’m talking about when I say mobile app design.
We’re talking about the complete user interface from top to bottom. Everything your user sees, touches and interacts with, is the design of your mobile application.
Are you beginning to see why getting your mobile app design right is so critical?
Why is Mobile App Design Critical to Your App’s Success?
Now that you have an understanding of what mobile app design is, let’s get into why it’s so important to do right.
User Experience is Completely Dependant on Mobile App Design
The main reason that mobile app design is so important to your app’s success is that it has a dramatic effect on your app’s user experience. The way your app looks and moves plays a critical role in the way a user feels when interfacing with it.
Imagine opening a newly downloaded app that displays a quick logo, opens to a basic home screen, and expects you to do the rest. Not only that, but the buttons are hard to read or situated in weird places so that you have to think about each and every move you make to ensure it’s the right one.
Now imagine opening a newly downloaded app that displays a dazzling motion graphic, opens to a beautifully designed home screen, and give you easy to follow commands to get you familiar with the layout of the app. The buttons are where you would normally reach to perform standard actions and everything is easy to understand without much of a learning curve.
How would you feel about each app?
Which would you be more likely to use often?
Which would you be more likely to refer to a friend or give a glowing review?
The way your user feels about your app plays a direct role in the way they use it and whether or not they share it. An app’s value and success are directly tied to the size and activity level of its user base.
The way your mobile design affects your app’s user experience will play a direct role in the rate at which you can grow your user base and how quickly and effectively you can monetize it.
Makes Your App Look and Feel Professional
A secondary benefit of having a well-designed app is the way your app is portrayed in the marketplace. If you open an app that has been well designed, it instantly feels more professional, no matter how well it performs the task it was created to accomplish.
That means most users are going to be more excited to use it, more patient with any bugs, and willing to spend more time learning the functionality of an app that has been properly designed. Obviously you’ll need your app to deliver on its functional promises, but a strong user interface will go a long way in keeping people engaged with your app.
Helps Your App Provide Intuitive Functionality
Another extremely important reason to invest in a quality mobile app design is to ensure your app delivers an intuitive user interface. You want to make sure your mobile design has buttons where you would intuitively reach for them and follows action pathways that you would intuitively follow.
That means making it from the home screen to performing your desired action without having to spend much time thinking about which buttons to press or which pages to navigate to next.
Tips to Pull Off an Exceptional Design
Now that you understand the dramatic effect your mobile app design can have on your success, let’s take a look at how to make sure you create an app that delivers stunning visuals, a clear and intuitive interface, and beats the competition.
Tips to Beat the Competition
One of the things that plenty of new apps lack is an edge over their competition. Your success is dependant on your ability to stand out.
#1 - Do Your Research
The first step to ensuring your design is better than the rest is to do some serious research. Search your app marketplace for other apps like yours and take notes.
What do you like about the way the app works/looks?
What could you improve upon?
What sort of things would keep you from using this app regularly?
Why would/wouldn’t you refer your friends to this app?
I can’t stress the importance of proper research enough. Be sure to know who it is you’re designing for too. The user you’re designing for will have a major influence on the look and functionality of your mobile app design.
For example, you may be designing a gaming app for teens that is highly technical and full of features that help retain the limited attention span of your demographic. The interface could be full of flashy designs and bright colors and you’d likely want to give them the option to share on social media and build a community around your app.
If you were designing a healthcare app for a hospital it would need to have simple, easy to understand functionality that a wide range of users could adapt to and a more reserved interface. It would need to feel secure and professional and give its users exactly what they needed in the fewest steps possible and require a very short learning curve.
#2 - Do It Better
The next step is to work on truly doing things better than your competition. I’m not talking about pretty tweaks that make the same problems more bearable. I mean going back to the drawing board and designing an interface that works better or performs the same task in an easier, quicker, and/or more fun way.
Tips for a Look That Wows
The way your app looks plays a huge role in the way users feel while using it. Ramp up the look of your user interface in order to boost your user experience to the next level. An app that is completely useful and looks great doing it is an app that wins!
#3 - Be Stunning from the Start Screen
The first way to wow your users is to start with something stunning. This could be an exceptionally vivid and colorful motion graphic that kicks off the experience with a bang, or a magnificent home screen that allows you to make a great impression from the word “go.”
#4 - Put Your Spin on a Classic
You don’t always have to come up with something groundbreaking (though it’s great if you can). Instead, search for inspiration and come up with examples of things you love about the mobile design of other apps.
Your app developer should be able to implement the elements you’ve shared with them into your mobile app design and help you create something that stands out as your own. Most apps follow very similar outlines and only incorporate a few key differences to make them look unique.
#5 - Outdated Apps Lose Popularity
Be sure to keep updating your mobile app design. The marketplace is always shifting and new trends in mobile app design can change at a moment's notice. If your app isn’t incorporating some of the most popular features currently available, it will begin to feel outdated. Outdated apps are useless and apps that don’t get used can’t hope to be successful in the long term.
Tips for Providing Amazing Functionality
The way your app functions has a major effect on the end user experience. If your app isn’t intuitive and simple to use, it’s less likely to be used regularly.
#6 - Design Around the User’s End Goal
Every app should be designed around the user’s goals for using it. That means understanding what the user’s end goals are and making it exceptionally easy to accomplish them.
Make it easy and intuitive to follow the steps necessary to reach their end point without getting frustrated or sidetracked in between.
#7 - Understand Your User
Successful mobile app design revolves around having an understanding of the people that will be using it. That means being clear about the age, social, religious, or cultural issues that may keep your user from getting the most out of your app.
For example, if you’re creating a game for a younger user you may not have to worry about spelling out the steps to get started with game play or including small text in important areas. If you’re creating an app for an older user, these are both areas where they would encounter a problem. Consider your user in every aspect of your mobile app design.
#8 - Keep Your Interface Clear: Avoid a Confused User
My first tip for creating an easy to use, highly intuitive mobile app design is to keep your interface clear. Don’t add anything to your app that doesn’t improve the user experience or need to be there. Keep the layout of your mobile design as simple as possible while maintaining your desired visual effect.
#9 - Establish Your Design Elements, and Repeat
Design elements are easily replicated throughout your app. Once you have your mobile app design elements for your home screen, carry those same cues through the rest of your app in order to increase its intuitive feel and ease of use.
#10 - Color Can Establish Hierarchy
Using shades of the same color can help you to create the hierarchy necessary to intuitively move your user along their path to accomplishing their goal. For example, starting with a strong, dark green and moving down the screen or page by page with a softer, lighter shade of green will help to indicate progress in the right direction.
It also makes it easier to select the most common options a user has available or the action that you want them to take most. For example, that dark green could represent the choice you want them to make or the most common choice amongst your users.
#11 - User Actions Need Quick Feedback
One of the recurring themes behind mobile app design is that users typically have very little patience and a limited attention span. That means they need near immediate gratification for every action taken within your app.
That may be more difficult to do with more complicated tasks, but something as simple as a vibration when the button is pressed and a load bar or icon will help them understand that your app is doing its best to move them through to the next step as fast as possible. Consider adding a fun fact related to your wait screen to keep them busy. The more fun they have with your app, the more likely they will be to share it.
Remember, try to avoid a loading spinner that doesn’t quantify the amount of progress. They just make most people anxious!
#12 - What Works for One App May Not Work for Yours
The simple truth behind mobile app design is that there is no one-size-fits-all functionality. What works for one app may not work for the next. For that reason, it’s important to have mobile app analytics installed in your app to be able to test and track the changes you make.
Make a single change, determine if it improves or detracts from your user experience, and proceed accordingly. In order to create an app that people continually use, you’ll need to focus on mobile app design that works for the majority of your ideal users (user persona).
Now that you’re way ahead of the pack, it’s time to get started on your mobile app design. This is one of the most important stages of your app development process, so do your research, determine ways to wow your users, and keep updating to stay ahead of the trends.
Remember, wow your users with stunning visuals and impressive functionality, but keep things simple enough to figure out without much of a learning curve. Follow the 10 tips mentioned above and you’ll be destined for success and on you way to dominating the app markets!