There are so many mobile apps out there competing for space and relevance to the users. So if you and your team of app developers want to come up with an app that will not only get accepted but steal the show you need to factor in some key principles of mobile app design. It’s a fact that any worthy mobile app answers at least one of the following questions: What is the app’s utility, or in other words, does it solve any pressing problem?
For your app to be really useful it has to provide solutions in any of the following four areas of concern: provide some meaningful info (to users in a specific niche), provide travel directions (informational app), offer info to buyers of specified categories of products and (or services) or provide instruction on how to accomplish a given task. You and your team have to ascertain that your app effectively addresses the specific issue you want to help your users to solve.
True, there is no single best approach to mobile app design and layout, however, there are some vital principles to help you remain focused and accurate as you design and develop your mobile app.
Consider the following mobile app design tips:
1. Create Your App’s Mission
Before you start thinking about how this app will work, it is vital to first define clearly what your app is expected to do and what makes it unique. Simply, the app must fill a need. The first step here is to understand your target end-user. Remember that with the millions of apps already out there chances are there’s already an app doing something similar to what you are thinking about.
You need to be clear on what will make your app unique and a must-have for your target clients. You also need to understand your app’s context. This calls for a clear knowledge of the mindset of the users. Define the user’s situation and be clear on what they are really trying to accomplish based on the four scenarios we highlighted at the onset of this write-up.
Having narrowed down thus far you’ll still be left with a broad spectrum of use cases. It is therefore important to narrow down further to the single-most important task that the app will help accomplish. This is important as it allows you to now optimize the app’s design. Identify the most ideal interface that’ll allow your clients to complete that specific task. Design for this key function and continue building your mobile app design from that point.
2. Design for Simplicity
Your app needs to be easy to use. Nothing can be as dissatisfying to a user as an app that poses more problems than it helps to solve. With such an app the most likely scenario is users will either shelve it and forget about it or worse still delete if from their mobile devices in favor of other things. To avoid this why not start with app navigation?
This part includes some content to quickly guide the users to find what they are looking. This, in turn, means having clear markers in the app to lead first-time users to new key features that you want to highlight. With this kind of arrangement in place, users will not have to endure any frustration as they try to make sense of your app. A simple tutorial with guideposts might be all that the user needs before navigating through the app like a seasoned pro.
You still have to consider other design elements here. Your menus and labels should be as user-friendly as possible. If a user misses one step or wants to go back to the previous step, does your app have a go back option?
Position the elements appropriately. There is an optimal size and location for everything; these can be easily derived from the usefulness of the element or task. When setting the position of these components, follow the de facto standards, for instance, put the back button appropriately in the left corner if you are designing for iOS. Further consider thumb ergonomic components, position all the frequently used components within correct thumb-range.
Don’t forget to do more with less. Avoid the temptation to include too many gestures, buttons, and interactions. Before you add any extra component just ask yourself whether the user can still perform the core tasks without this addition? Trim your app as much as you can before releasing it out to your soon-to-be users. This preempts a situation where they might end up becoming unhappy should you decide later to get rid of some fairly unnecessary features.
Since most app users already know what they want with the technology, make it easy and convenient for them to accomplish the task. Instead of including browser options only why not throw in a prominently displayed search bar? This will save them the agony of looking for one. Within this search bar, you can use search indexing bearing in mind that users will expect search results equal to or even better than Google. So, including predictive text, spelling auto-corrections, suggestions to the user while entering text, recognition of root words as well as a drop-down menu which has a history of the last few searchers and will go a long way in making the app very user-friendly.
3. Create a Compelling Visual Identity
In common parlance, we can call this your brand identity. What do your app users see when they interact with the app? Irrespective of the kind of app, visual aesthetics play a critical role in giving the app its own unique identity. Should it be comforting, business-like or edgy? Choosing your app personality before you embark on designing its unique identity gives you a framework for consistently making decisions based on the actual app personality you want to achieve.
4. Keep Scalability in Mind
Bear in mind that mobile devices are more than just mobile phones. There are tablets and phablets to think about. Do your research considering the following factors: phone interface and tablet interface. Users at times have more than one mobile device and you don’t want them to miss out on the services of your app just because the app is not compatible with other categories of mobile devices. This is a vital principle if you want to have an extensive reach to your users.
To transition from a mobile app to the mobile site you have to ensure the transition is as seamless as possible. Keep the layout between these two platforms consistent for this kind of transitioning to be hassle-free. Note too that mobile app design principles at times vary depending on whatever other features that you want to include in your app. What matters, in the end, is keeping your app responsive, intuitive, easy to use and relevant to the unique requirements of your target audience.
Granted, these are not the only principles of mobile app design but they constitute the most fundamental must-do if you have to come up with an app that will stand tall in the crowded world of mobile apps.