How to Design a Mobile App with User Experience in Mind

mobile app user experience design

A great app design blends appealing aesthetics with great functionality; however, when designing an app don’t think you’re creating the final product. A really good app is constantly evolving, incorporating feedback to ensure user experience is optimized; after all, we live in a dynamic, ever changing world, so needs and expectations can change over time.

Given that mobile apps now dominate the market – with 204 billion downloaded in 2019 – we’ll focus this article on mobile app design, looking at the key design principles to incorporate for a superior user experience.

Once you’ve decided what you want to build – and why – here are our top tips to consider when building your app:

1. Focus on first time experience

First impressions definitely count. It’s not easy to get people to try your app, but it’s even more difficult to entice them back if they’re put off by a poorly designed app that’s cumbersome to use and slow to load. To help avoid these issues, consider the following:

  • Avoid sign-in walls and asking for permissions up front. Likewise, make the onboarding experience as simple and straightforward as possible.
  • Ensure the app appears fast and responsive. According to Google, pages should load within 2 seconds, so make sure your site loads pages within this timeframe.
  • Ensure key content loads in the visible portion of the screen; users typically won’t notice or mind if additional information is loading in the background.
  • Ensure a consistent design throughout the app. It’s important that the same fonts, buttons and design theme are used not only throughout the app, but also that these design themes are consistent with a website, should you offer a web service.
  • Avoid jargon and use familiar terms – this is important to ensure users feel comfortable and ties in with predictability. The way copy is written and the way an app performs should all feel familiar and predictable, that way the user feels more in control.

2. Think mobile screens

When it comes to web design, think carefully about the typography you use. Mobile screens are more restricted than desktops and laptops. You should consider the following:

  • Font and size. The success of an app isn’t just in the form and function, but also in the look and feel of the site. There’s no point in beautifully crafted content if it can’t be read, so make sure the font is large enough for the naked eye – as a general rule of thumb, it should be a minimum point size of 11. Also, make sure the font is easy to read and is a good contrast to the background colour, to ensure it stands out.
  • Length of text lines. For a smartphone, try to use 30-40 characters per line, so the text is comfortable to read.
  • Use HD quality images and make sure they’re the right aspect ratio so they don’t look distorted.
  • Ensure video is optimized for portrait mode, as the majority of users will view using this orientation on a smartphone.
  • Design the app for touch, ensuring the target buttons are large enough (10mm x 10mm is optimal) and ensure feedback on the interaction is clear. Likewise, avoid including elements that look like buttons but that aren’t clickable.

3. Avoid overloading users

Your app may be amazing and you may have a lot of information to disseminate, but avoid bombarding users with too much information at once. Breaking down information and tasks into bite-sized pieces will help to prevent users being overwhelmed. Other ways to ensure a neat, clean design include:

  • Declutter your pages and use a simple, clean design throughout the app. Try to keep images and buttons to a minimum.
  • Keep user input to a minimum. This is particularly important when asking users to fill in a form; these can be fiddly and prone to errors, especially on a smartphone. So, keep forms short and sweet, and use autocomplete where possible.
  • Ensure error messages are clear. After all, to err is human, to forgive divine. Things will go wrong even with the most popular apps, so rather than strand users on a blank error page, make it clear what’s gone wrong, how it can be reported, and make sure there’s a ‘back’ key to take them to the previous page.

4. Consider accessibility and connection speed

Not everyone has the latest smartphone, and not everyone has the same capabilities, so by building in these user interface design principles, you can cater for the broadest demographic:

  • Make animations optional. This is important if users experience motion sickness. Also, there’s nothing worse than waiting for an animation to load – or having it slow down pages for those with slower connections. So, make viewing animations optional.
  • Think colours – yes, this may seem obvious but not everyone has perfect vision. With up to 8% of the world’s population suffering from a form of colour blindness, it’s really important to think about the colour themes you use in your design, and in your calls to action.
  • Users in certain areas will struggle to maintain connectivity, so try and ensure the app is at least partly usable even when the device is offline.

5. Use the device’s capabilities

The beauty of designing an app specifically for mobiles devices is that you can make the most of their unique capabilities. These include:

  • Biometric authentication. Use facial identification or fingertip touch to login to the app, this reduces the number of steps that need to be taken to log in.
    Location data. This is incredibly powerful, especially when it comes to delivery apps and location of stores.
  • One final consideration is how your mobile app will hold up in emerging markets. This ties in with point 4, as users in these nations will face issues such as poor connectivity, limited data and lower device capabilities. By adapting your app to cope with such restrictions, you’ll ensure a far smoother global rollout of your mobile app.

If you need help creating your app, then get in touch with us today. Here at Apps in the Sky, we have a team of expert developers on hand to help make your dream a reality, meeting your commercial and creative objects. Contact us at or call us on 01256 274108 and see how we can help you today.

Best Apps for Dealing with Isolation during the Coronavirus Outbreak

phone app for elderly couple

Once the preserve of long-distance relationships and those working away from home, messaging apps are now a lifeline for those self-isolating due to the coronavirus outbreak. Many families and the elderly are now using these messaging services to keep in touch. In fact, being able to communicate with each other is vitally important now more than ever, as human touch is forbidden and human interactions pared down to speaking through a pane of glass at best with those most vulnerable to the viral outbreak. Many families and elderly are not only searching for the best messaging apps but also the best game apps to keep them occupied at this time. In this post, we’ll focus on messaging apps, and look at the best ones available today to help you stay in touch with loved ones.

1. Link-Ages

When it comes to selecting the best messaging app for keeping in touch with loved ones, especially elderly relatives who may not be as tech savvy as younger family members, safety, security and ease of use are all of vital importance. Link-Ages is a messaging app that delivers on all three fronts. It allows family and friends to stay in touch by voice calls, texting and by video and is available on the most popular devices – smartphones and tablets. It’s simple and is ad free, so no more pesky pop ups during your calls, which can be distracting and confusing for those not so confident with new technology. In fact, Link-Ages was created specifically for care organisations, allowing them to share updates with family members in a secure, closed network, so you can be sure it’s been created with those most vulnerable in mind.

This messaging app also features built-in photo sharing, so you can create digital storybooks that can be looked back on when you’re apart. As quarantines lift, you can be sure that the children will be out and about before shielded individuals can easily be visited, so you can share an important calendar event to keep family and friends up to date and then easily share captured moments with them, keeping them in touch with the outside world. When it comes to ease of use, Link-Ages not only features large easy to read buttons and an uncluttered interface, but the app allows a nominated family member to assist a Hub user remotely; at a time when frustrations are building, knowing you can easily help everyone stay in touch makes all the difference. Finally, as this is a subscription service, unlike other social media platforms you can be sure that you’re talking on a safe and secure platform.

2. WhatsApp

Another incredibly popular messaging service, WhatsApp allows users to connect and communicate via instant messaging, audio and video calls. It’s a free service and uses your phone’s cellular or WiFi service to connect with others, so it’s a great option if you’re scattered all over the world. In terms of security, it offers end to end encryption, and works across a number of platforms, including Android smartphones and iPhones. What’s more, unlike Facebook Messenger, you don’t need a social media account to set up this service. You can communicate one-to-one or create groups, so it’s good for families, although there are no special features to assist elderly family members to understand the technology.

In terms of staying in touch with elderly relatives, one of the biggest drawbacks is accessibility. It’s only available as an app on smartphones; in order to access WhatsApp via an iPad or desktop/laptop computer, you have to log in via the WhatsApp website. As many elderly people will prefer to use these larger screens, this can make the user experience more problematic. Also, your profile picture is visible to everyone who has your contact number and anyone can get hold of your profile picture and status if they have your phone number; so while the messages themselves are encrypted, it’s not as secure as it seems.

3. Skype

We know that there are a plethora of newer messaging apps out there, but when it comes to staying in touch with elderly relatives, Skype is still a firm favourite. Available on smartphones, iPads and computers, this free service specializes in video chat and voice calls.

Skype has long been popular for international calls, and like WhatsApp uses cellular or WiFi data to make connections, so it won’t eat into your call plan. This is a great option for calls, but messaging is more complex, so its ability to fulfil communication needs at times like these is limited. It’s also a voice over internet provider (VoIP) so relies on a good internet connection and if your connection is slow, you’ll struggle to maintain a good connection. Another drawback is the security aspect; Skype users are more vulnerable to hackers, personal data breaches and downloading viruses and malware. If your family members are all computer literate then this is a great option, but when it comes to elderly relatives who are isolated at home or in a care setting, this probably isn’t the best option.
We hope that in these trying times, this article helps you decide how best to stay in touch with your elderly relatives. We will come through this, we will again be able to give them a hug, but in the meantime the most we can do for those who are isolated is to see them every day via the virtual world. The best way to do that will always be the least stressful way, and by using a service that’s easy for them to understand and brings the whole family together in a fun and enjoyable way.