Mobile apps have become a common part of modern life. Right now there are over 2 billion people with smartphones across the globe. To access content and other services, users have developed a strong preference for mobile applications. According to Nielsen, 89 percent of mobile media time comes via mobile apps.
It is no wonder that mobile apps have seen tremendous growth. These days there are over 4.4 million apps available from just Google Play and the Apple iTunes App Store. In this crowded market, how do you create an app that stands out? Key, of course, is to develop an app that is not only useful and relevant, but also one that delights users with an exceptional user experience.
Below are 5 design tips that will help improve your mobile app’s user experience and increase your chances of having a successful mobile application.
When designing your app you want to make the navigation self-evident to its users. One of the top goals for your user interface should be to help users complete their intended tasks. Helping them navigate is a significant part of helping them complete their intended tasks. Conversely, if your mobile app is difficult to understand and navigate it will have a high abandonment rate.
One of the best ways to do this is to leverage familiarity. Using familiar icons, colors and patterns can help users quickly understand how to use your application. For instance, using familiar icons such as the hamburger icon allow users to quickly understand what to do without having to try to figure out what some obscure symbol means. The proper use of color can help enhance the user experience as well, such as using red for errors or green for success messages.
While you don’t want to directly copy other applications, it helps to be familiar with the popular apps amongst your target demographic so you understand what they are familiar with. For instance, if slide-out navigation is common to apps used by your target market, you may want to leverage this so they feel at home on your app. Start with that pattern and then add in your own creativity so your app will be highly usable without feeling bland.
#2. Utilize white space
Unfortunately, white space is an often overlooked part of many user interfaces and generally, those interfaces suffer because of this. Often, the clients that designers are working for consider white space a waste of valuable screen space. Instead of giving their content room to breathe, they ask designers to fill the screen as much as possible.
Remember that white space is an important element of good design. It is a much better strategy to let your content breathe and use white space as a method of drawing attention to important items on your interface than it is to cram your interface with as much info as you can. Not only does white space help prioritize content but it also improves readability for your users. White space plays an important role in visual design that will improve not only your user interface but your app’s user experience as well.
#3. Design for how users actually operate their devices
It is important that you understand how users work on mobile phones and adapt your designs accordingly. It is also essential to keep in mind that over the last few years screen sizes have gotten bigger and bigger and your interface designs must take that into account.
According to research by Steven Hoober, when mobile phone users were observed touching their phone’s screens or buttons they held their phones in three basic ways: one handed 49%, cradled 36% or two handed 15% (cradled involves holding the device with one hand and touching buttons with the other, as opposed to two handed which involves typing with both thumbs).
You want to make sure you adapt your design so users can easily reach navigation and other tappable items to improve the user experience regardless of how they hold their device. Make sure that buttons can easily be tapped on larger sized phones that are common these days as well. Keep in mind that users don’t always use one or the same method to hold their device so your layout should accommodate all types of use.
#4. Focus on one task per screen
To make completing tasks easier for your users you want to reduce the amount of effort they have to put into using your app. An effective way to do this is by having every screen you design for your app focused on a single action per screen. You want to design each screen for one action with no more than one call-to-action per screen.
Doing so it makes your app easier to learn and easier to use. Focus your interface on essential content and remove unnecessary elements that do not help users complete their intended task. You want to guide your users through the action or to the content they’re looking for as quickly as possible, eliminating possible distractions.
You will find that if you try to design screens for two or more primary actions that they will become confusing for users and they will just abandon your application. If you have two important actions on a screen, split that screen into two separate ones to improve usability.
#5. Be careful with push notifications
You want to make sure that you think through your push notification program carefully. Being sent pointless push notifications can be very annoying to app users. In fact, according to Appiterate, in a recent survey, annoying notifications came up as the top reason that people uninstall mobile apps (by 71% of the respondents).
With your push notification program, you want to make every message count and not just be sending out notifications because you can. You only want to send out a push notification if you think they will be seen as valuable to the user.
A great way to build an effective messaging strategy is to not send every message to users via push notification. Vary the method you use to communicate with your users, many of them are less obtrusive than push notifications and are less likely to annoy users. In addition to being able to send out push notifications, you can contact your users via email or in-app notifications. By mixing it up you tend to take some of the messaging weight off of push notifications. Remember that you want your messaging program to help improve the user experience.