Designing a smartphone app involves more steps than simply choosing colors and fonts for the user interface. As a business, you have only a few seconds to capture users’ attention as the bar has already been raised regarding what users expect from mobile apps.
When users download an app, they want a unique experience that justifies downloading it (and the space on their phone). As a result, users do not have any qualms about deleting an app they do not find worthwhile even minutes after installing them. Therefore, over time, mobile app design has become the trickiest part of the development process.
To simplify the task of designing a memorable experience, we have compiled this guide on what you must focus on when designing mobile apps detailing an overview of the essential mobile app design principles and practices you must follow when creating a mobile app. But, before we move any further, let us see what app design is.
What is App Design?
App design is the look and feel of the mobile app that includes visual and interactive elements that impact how the app runs. UI, aka User Interface, consists of the app’s look and feel, which includes colors used, font, app style, and design elements. On the other hand, UX, aka User Experience, focuses on all aspects of the end-user’s interaction with the app.
With high-quality UI and UX design, getting users interested becomes a lot more manageable. Therefore when you proceed with mobile app development in the initial stages, the design must be the top priority as it can save you money and ensure higher ROI on your app.
Also, one of the basics of mobile app design is to stay as native as possible. Understand how Android and iOS work as they have their way of navigating, content layout, buttons, etc., before building mobile app design. Let us see what you need to consider before designing your mobile app.
Also read: What is User Interface (UI) Design for Mobile Apps?
How to Design a Mobile App: The Essentials
Before we go on to the guidelines and practices for designing the app, let us get some essentials out of the way. The following are the basics of app design you need to consider and for which you must have answers.
1) Thorough competitive research: What apps out there serve a similar purpose, and how different are you going to design the app?
2) Choosing the platform: Will you develop an app for Android, iOS, or both?
3) Wireframe/Prototype/Mockup: Create a visual representation of how you want the app to look and function.
4) Find the right team: One of the most significant steps is ensuring you find the design and development team who can help you design a user-first product.
5) Measure success: You can track the app’s number of downloads, reviews, user engagement, and other metrics to gauge its success.
6) Reiterate: The app design is never done in the first go. As users and demands increase/change, you must look for ways to improve your app.
Now that you know the essentials of designing the app, the following are some mobile app design principles you should keep in mind to create a successful and high-quality app.
Mobile App Design Principles
Design principles are essential guidelines for improving user interface design and accelerating delivery time. It makes the interface predictable and easy to use. Let us now see the mobile app design guidelines that you must know to achieve this level of organic experience.
The user interface design must be organized purposefully. The intent must be crystal clear, and unrelated things must be separated. The focus must be on the overall user interface structure, which must be apparent and recognizable to users.
This principle ensures the design is simple, straightforward, and easy to use. Features such as CTAs and buttons must work and communicate what they lead to in an easy language that users understand.
This design principle ensures the app’s core functionality is readily available to end users. Each option on the screen must be visible from any viewpoint without letting design distractions or redundant information come in the way. A good design does not overwhelm users with options or confuse them with too much information but displays just the right amount of data.
The design must inform users of any change in condition or state, actions, errors, or exceptions that are relevant to the user in a clear, consistent tone that they understand.
Mobile app design must be flexible and open to change. Working on the feedback and changes reduces the future app design cost that you will need to pay to build new interfaces and experiences.
The app design must reuse internal and external components. After mobile app development, when you release the app on their respective platforms, they must work similarly and consistently feature-wise and not otherwise.
Also, an essential thing to consider is testing at each stage of the design process. You must test not only on the sketches but also on wireframes, prototypes, mock-ups, and beyond.
Let us now see mobile app design’s best practices and tips that you can follow when designing the app.
Top Mobile App Design Practices to Follow
Now that you know the essentials and mobile application design guidelines, let us dive into mobile app design best practices and recommendations you can apply to build a mobile app.
1) Make the App User-Friendly and Intuitive
Using your app should call for minimal user effort and get them the desired result in fewer steps. This means you must ensure the design is in such a way that users need to take minimal actions, unnecessary features are hidden, and there are no processes that overload the user. In addition, it should provide a good UI and the ability to access app features with little effort or explanation.
2) Maintain Component and Design Consistency
Maintaining visual consistency using the same buttons, labels, and fonts throughout the app is one of the basic principles of design. In addition, operational consistency must be maintained by ensuring interactive components work the same in the app and across multiple platforms.
3) Declutter Unwanted Design Features
Clutter is something that people hate. Removing elements not needed in the app design can show your target audience that you understand what they need effectively. To solve this issue, you can apply the following steps.
- Display minimal content that is of use to the user
- Display a minimal amount of UI elements that help users understand better
- Use navigation patterns common to respective platforms, such as tab bar (iOS) and navigation drawer (Android)
4) Minimize User Input
Most users prefer to use the app before signing up, especially when the app is not data centric. Therefore, turning on the signup option only after the user has become used to the effectiveness of the application is generally advisable. In the case of data-intensive applications like fintech or healthcare apps, we suggest keeping the entry points minimal, when initiating the KYC onboarding journey.
Some ways to tackle this can be adding innovative features that include integrating tools to autocomplete the address form instead of manually entering the input, etc., and checking to see if other field values are suitable when the user submits on the first attempt.
5) Monitor Readability
One of the most important practices is to check if the text is clear and readable. The best way to do that is to include the most readable font, as anything smaller is difficult to see/read. Think wisely before integrating any font in the app. It is feasible and safe to include the most used and classic fonts for each platform, such as Roboto font for Android and San Francisco font for iOS.
6) Never Make Random Color Choices
All the app’s design elements must have a clear and consistent purpose. The colors must not be too bright or challenging to see/read. The user may get confused and not decide to build an association with your app or product and your conversion rates may suffer due to this. The best thing you can do is use standard colors associated with them. For example, maintain consistent color branding for both the website and app; the exit button can be gray, and red can be used for account deletion.
7) Keep Speed and Responsiveness in Mind
Do you know 48% of users are likely to uninstall an app because it is slow? Therefore, speed is essential when creating an app; if the design is extensive or too complex, it can affect the app’s loading time.
Simplifying the design can help eliminate the problem, for example, by showing less text or decreasing the weight of images so that it takes up less space.
8) Make Use of Gestures
Gestures are the best way for users to interact on smartphones and help create an engaging and better experience. When designing the app, use mobile device capabilities that can use gestures in your app design.
Some common gestures include pinching to zoom, swiping to scroll through lists or move between screens, tapping to select an option or open a link, and using a finger to scroll through the app.
The gestures must be easy to understand so that users can figure out how to use them efficiently. Use feedback to let users know when a gesture is recognized.
9) Focus on Content-First Design
The app’s content is equally important as the design. If people do not find or get what they are looking for on how to use your app, they will not stick for long. This is why businesses must focus on creating a content-first design.
Begin by creating the wireframe of the layout for your app – this will ensure that content is represented accurately and easy to find. Some examples of content-first design include Netflix and Uber, as both are easy to use and have a straightforward navigation structure. In addition, the layout is simple and uncluttered, making it easy for users to find what they want.
By following the aforementioned mobile design practices and tips, you, as a business, can help create a better overall user experience for people visiting your website or app.
Mobile app design is an evolving stage in every project, as there’s always a scope for change depending on how the users’ needs move. The best first step can be to pay attention to competitor apps and see what you can learn from them. Look at their visual elements, app design, and call-to-action buttons that impact conversion. Then use your analysis to create your app design by following the best practices mentioned in the article.
It can be challenging to keep up with the latest trends and best practices; this is where Ailoitte can help you by building stunning UI/UX designs for your needs. We are a leading mobile app design and development company with vast experience in developing stellar user experiences for our clients. We have over half a decade of experience providing mobile app design services across various niches and domains. We have helped many businesses and entrepreneurs turn their app ideas into reality with us. Contact us today to build a memorable experience for your product.
To design an excellent, fully functional mobile app interface like a pro, you must follow the fundamental principles of mobile app design, which include having an easy-to-use app interface design, making the navigation simple, having a great, straightforward, page design, maintaining brand consistency throughout and optimizing the design for all screens.
The essential app design principles are structure, simplicity, visibility, feedback, tolerance, and reuse.
The steps to implement app design are: First, identify the problem you wish to solve along with the process, audience, and business goal. Then conduct proper competitor and user research. Choose tools and technologies you intend to use. Next, create a wireframe, develop a mockup, and Prototype. Test the prototype and get feedback from end users. And finally, rework the design.
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