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 firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 01256 274108 and see how we can help you today.