Designing a Mobile App: Practical Tips

Mobile design is a relatively young design area that started to evolve a decade ago. With the launch of the App Store and Android Market (presently Google Play) in 2008, the mobile app development market has become a prosperous niche, resulting in the rapid increase in the number of available applications. Consequently, the demand for qualitative app design began to grow.

Read this article if you want to know how to design a mobile app that will generate profits and make your users happy.

Mobile App Design Tips: Why Are They Important?

The number of apps available for download on the leading mobile app distribution platforms exceeds five million units, as of 2018.

Number of apps available in leading app stores, as of 3rd quarter 2018

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Source: Statista

As you see, this market is incredibly competitive, and your app needs a thought-out design to stand out from the crowd.

Most people rely on their first impression when evaluating something. It takes a person around 50 milliseconds to form an opinion about an object and decide whether he or she likes it or not. Why does it happen so fast? The answer is in the human’s brain.

Psychologists say that the first impression of any object is 94% related to its look and feel:

  • Visuals are processed 60,000 times faster than text or audio
  • 70-75% of people respond better to visual information
  • We remember 80% of what we see and interact with; 20% of what we read; 10% of what we hear
  • Our brain records 10 images per second

As a result, an appealing layout design of a mobile app ensures positive user experience, which significantly increases customer loyalty and speeds up the payback.

A good design is not only a beautiful picture, but it is also the way an app performs.

“Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”

Steve Jobs

Based on this statement, the main goal of developers is to build solutions that are both pleasing to the eye and easy to use.

Best Tips to Design an App for Mobile Devices

We have worked out the guide with the basic tips for app design. Follow these principles to succeed in making a popular mobile solution.

Adhere to Simplicity

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Users prefer interaction with simple and logical navigation elements, as they don’t want to waste time on solving puzzles to perform an operation. Any complication is the wrong approach to design. Quite often, mobile app designers try to add as many features as possible, believing that this would bring the app up to the top positions. This is particularly an issue for teams where everyone has multiple ideas and the team considers all of them essential. In reality, the more concise the app, the better.

The application must do exactly what the user needs and nothing more. It can be described by the term “flat design,” which means minimalism and usage of simple elements. Too many features in the interface distract users from the main task. Customers then have a negative experience, and your conversion rates fall. Moreover, if you jam numerous elements into a small space, your app will take much longer to load, frustrating its users.

Takeaway: Follow the KISS principle (“Keep it simple, stupid”) to create comprehensive interface examples. This principle states that most systems work best if they are simple, as most tasks can be performed with fewer steps. The principle is applicable to any sphere.

Provide Accessibility

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Design accessibility means the absence of negative emotions when interacting with the application. This is a very important point you should never forget. If certain categories of people can’t use your product, it is better to start over.

One of the main mobile app design tips is to ensure that the application is available for people with limited abilities. Today, millions of users are vision or hearing impaired, and not taking care of their needs could be a fatal mistake for your business.

Microsoft and other leading IT service providers offer a range of tools and technologies to assist people with disabilities in removing digital barriers and providing equal opportunities. More and more developing companies work in accordance with the WAI (Web Accessibility Initiative) concept.

Read also: Web Accessibility Initiative: Definition with Case Studies

Another point is compatibility with all possible devices. In order to cover most of the market, your solution should equally perform on Android, iOS or other platforms, as well as be optimized for different screen sizes and resolutions.

Takeaway: Good design is accessible design. Today, it is not enough to focus on the target audience only; you need to make sure the product is available to all users.

Learn from the Experience of Others

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The majority of successful applications have similar features in their design, be it the layout, the icons or gesture navigation. So, when it comes to creating a new custom app, there is no need to reinvent the wheel. You should analyze the best practices of your competitors and create the product on their basis. This doesn’t mean plagiarism and absence of creativity. This means that you should capitalize on the examples of positive experience.

Users prefer intuitive interaction and expect to see familiar features in a new solution. The designer should understand user needs and be extremely careful with innovative ideas while creating the interface.

Certainly, innovative technologies and market trends can facilitate the appearance of new features. If implemented step by step, they can help you reach new customers and establish a greater presence in the market.

Takeaway: Analyze the experience of your competitors, keep in mind user needs and carefully implement modern trends. Don’t build an app that will be a steep learning curve for users.

Carefully Select Visual Elements

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The most useful UX/UI design tips concern visual elements because they facilitate user engagement more than anything else. Follow the tips below to create the appealing visual interface.

  • Use a grid. It is important to keep the layout organized so that elements don’t overlap with each other. A grid is invisible in the final design, but it is an irreplaceable assistant when defining margins and spacing. Put elements on a grid and you will avoid misaligned text or skewed pictures.
  • Choose appropriate fonts. The right font of a mobile app should fit its idea and, at the same time, be legible. Don’t become addicted to fancy fonts: they may seem beautiful in isolation but, used on an app, they may completely ruin the experience. What’s more, fonts should be consistent throughout the solution. You can only use different styles to highlight something, e.g. headings. Numerous fonts in one solution will definitely confuse users.
  • Don’t neglect colors. The color aspect is crucial in the design. Colors may either create a positive impression from interacting with an app or make the experience disappointing. Colors that are too bright and contrast that is too sharp make it difficult to concentrate on and force users to strain their eyes. You should also stick to common color associations, e.g. green for a “yes” button, red for a “no” button, etc. If you reverse associations, your customers will become frustrated.
  • Be consistent. Consistency is key to providing a positive customer experience. Design elements should guide users in their actions and not mislead them — so you can not dramatically change the rules of the interaction. All pages of your app should support the core style and idea. The menu layout or buttons performing certain functions should be repeated on every page. If you change the design (size or color) of an element from one page to another, the user will be confused, may click on the wrong button and even perform an unnecessary action, which may cause errors and dampen their experience.

Takeaway: Create the layout on a grid; carefully choose fonts and colors; repeat defined elements on all screens.

Read also: Design Thinking Process: Why Is It Useful for Business?

Base Testing on Customer Feedback

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Even the smallest error can make users delete the application. If the design is not clear or the font is not readable, an application is unlikely to become popular. Hence, a solution must be constantly tested. The best option is to base your testing phase on end-user feedback because only users know what’s best for them.

Takeaway: Continuous testing based on end-user feedback is a way to develop a perfect design.

Read also: The Evolution from Testing to Quality Engineering 

To Sum Up

The above-mentioned design tips for creating mobile apps are only the tip of the iceberg, and many more suggestions can be added to the list. Nevertheless, these are the basic tips, as they are universal and suitable both for startups and large companies.

Specialists at SaM Solutions adhere to these tips and use their mobile app design inspiration to achieve user-centered results. The contact form is the quickest way to reach us, learn more about our mobile expertise and get answers to your questions.

Request consultation with SaM Solutions' specialist





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