With the evergrowing number of mobile app downloads worldwide, it’s no wonder that more and more businesses are designing mobile apps for their businesses. Apps have become a common way to buy a product or use a service.
You can find apps designed for different products, and services from all industries. And there’s a pretty competitive market for any industry, making your job to create a memorable and useful app even more difficult.
One of the ways to create a unique and successful app is to come up with a distinctive and well-thought-out design. The design of the app is actually very important and it isn’t all about aesthetics either. Your app design can affect the overall user experience and satisfaction of your customers.
That’s why you need to approach your app design very seriously. And to help you not miss anything, we’ve created a list of things to keep in mind when designing a mobile app. By paying attention to each item on this list, you’ll have better chances of creating a successful app.
Let’s dive in.
Know Your Goals
The first thing we need to talk about is your goals. Before even thinking about the design of your app, you need to think about why you are creating this app. What are your goals? Do your customers really need an app? Will it be successful?
It might not seem like a complex task, but the creation and design of an app require a lot of time and effort, and I’m not even talking about its updates and maintenance. So, you’ll need lots of resources to build an app, and you’ll need to justify why you’re doing it. Designing a mobile app just for the sake of having it, or because “everyone else does so” is completely unnecessary.
There are a lot of goals you can have, such as increasing the number of your customers, engagement rates, or increasing conversion rates and sales. And most importantly, you need to answer the following question: what problem is my app going to solve for its users?
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Research is a big part of any design project, especially mobile app design projects. It might be very tempting to jump straight into the design of your app but skipping research will result in a lower quality product.
So, you need to do thorough competitor research and find out what features their apps have that might be useful for you, what features won’t work for you, etc. This will give you more information about what kind of app you will need.
Besides competitor research, you also need to research your customers and create/update your buyer personas. Why do they need your app? How will it help them? Remember that you’re creating the app for them not for you, and you need to think about what features they would like and find useful.
Android, iOS or Cross-platform
I think you already know that there are different operating systems which you need to consider before designing your app. Depending on your target audience and which smartphone they use most, you should choose to create an app for Android, iOs or for both.
If your target audience is living in the US then you should concentrate more on iOs. Whereas people from Asia, and Africa use more Android devices. Make sure you’ve researched your audience preferences and needs properly.
Of course, the more universal your app is the more potential users you will have. But don’t forget that to develop your app on both platforms you’ll need more resources and time, so think about this properly.
Think About Your App’s Features
You might want to add as many features as possible to attract more people. But that’s a very bad practice as it affects the quality of the user experience. By adding too many features you will only confuse users and they may stop using your app.
You need to clearly define the purpose of your app and what features your users need. Add only the necessary features. The most successful apps are those that are highly focused on a limited set of features and on creating a seamless experience for their users.
Following the previous tip, you need to make sure you only have the necessary features, which don’t confuse users. Remember that users shouldn’t question any feature. They should instantly understand what your app is about and how they can use it.
Besides, don’t try to be over-creative and confuse users with unfamiliar navigation or unnecessary design elements. It’s no coincidence that there are certain rules for UI/UX design. It ensures that your target audience won’t face unfamiliar navigation patterns and can use the app without questioning how to use it.
The location of the navigation bar, the design of certain icons, users are already used to a certain type of navigation and if you change these basic navigation items, you will disorient users. You need to find the balance between familiar features and your brand’s unique touches.
Don’t forget about the importance of brand design. If you want to be recognised as a brand, you need to have a consistent image across all platforms including your app. Make sure that whoever is responsible for the design of your app, perfectly knows your brand, and your products and has access to your branding guidelines.
Consistency will help you build the trust of your customers and make you look like a professional company in their eyes.
If you want to make sure you’re creating a successful mobile app, you need to test it. Even the most well-designed and well-thought-out UI/UX needs to be tested. No matter how great the designers that you hire may be, rigorous testing is crucial to producing a quality app.
You can use Figma to create a clickable design prototype and then try going through the flows. If possible also share this prototype with potential users and get their feedback. They may find some issues or suggest improvements that neither you nor the designers noticed.
While focusing on the design, you might overlook the tap attributes. The grids, the size of buttons and the space between the touch targets are very important. You always need to consider the fact that people are going to use the app on their mobile phones and thus the size of every touch target must be big enough so that people can tap it.
When you design on your large desktop, you might not notice the little tap flaws that can occur on a mobile device. That’s why it’s essential to test your app on a mobile device before launching it.
Minimum User Input
Data input is not so efficient on apps, as there are more chances to make mistakes while typing than on the desktop. And it’s also not so convenient for users. So try to minimize the amount of typing. Create short forms, and include only the necessary elements there.
Also, instead of input fields, use list options, and checkboxes, so that users won’t need to type.
Web (and Maybe Tablet) Version
This is one of the most important things to think about. Are you going to create only an app or the web version of it as well? Or maybe your app is just a complement to your website? You need to figure out these questions as from your answers it will be clear what functionalities your app and website will have.
It is also crucial to remember about your users. During your research, you need to find out their preferences, and which devices they’re going to use so that you can decide about the features and functionalities of your mobile app/web version.
App Store Optimisation
Let’s forget about the design for a moment. Because no matter how great your app design is, without marketing and optimization it won’t be successful. People need to be able to easily find your app on AppStore and/or Google Play or any other app marketplace your app is going to be listed in.
App marketplace and SEO optimization are crucial for the success of your app. And don’t forget to perfectly understand the app registration rules and guidelines. Believe me, it’s going to take more time than you think.
If you have ever used an app, you’ll know that they request updates quite frequently or update automatically. This means that apps, similar to websites, need constant maintenance and probably even more than websites.
You need to constantly monitor your app performance, and make updates and changes when necessary.
Besides, note that there are also OS updates, and if you want your app to work properly you need to update it to meet the recent OS needs. Even if you don’t need to make any changes to your app, you still need it to be available for the latest versions of Android and iOs.
Besides OS updates, you need to plan the content updates of your app. This is necessary if you want to always appear fresh and relevant. Analyze your customers’ behaviours, understand what content they expect from you and update your content and app features according to that information.
Ongoing Design Support
As you see there’s a lot to consider when designing a mobile app. Just like all software products, apps are never done and dusted, instead, it’s an ongoing process of improvement.
Almost all apps need to have design updates, as more and more users use your app you will receive more feedback and be able to implement further design improvements to improve the user experience.
You will potentially develop new features as well that will need to be designed. In addition to this, you will also have an ongoing need for graphic design services for your app marketing efforts.
So ideally you need to make arrangements to not only have the MVP designed but also get ongoing design support. In case you want to outsource app design services, we have an article about the pros and cons of hiring a design agency vs. a freelancer.
Users expect quite a lot from apps and websites. Loading speed, high-quality and unique design, simple navigation, and accessibility, these are all crucial to satisfy only the basic expectations of users.
You need to spend a lot of time and resources to create an appealing app that provides a seamless experience to your users. But the most important thing to remember is that you’re creating your app for your audience and potential customers. And you need to understand what exactly they want to create a successful mobile app.
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A high-quality app design provides a flawless user experience. It has easy-to-understand navigation, aesthetic design, works without bugs and provides value to users.
Both Android and iOs are used worldwide and if you want your app to be available to as many users as possible, you need to consider creating your app for both platforms. But in general, the choice depends on your target audience. People living in the US use more iOs than Android devices, while users of Asia and Africa use more Android devices.
To create a successful mobile app you need to:
- Have a clearly defined purpose for the creation of your app
- Work on the design, architecture and the creation of a seamless experience for your users
- Work on marketing and optimization to make your app visible to users
- Think about the monetization of your app before creating it