Technology November 21, 2016 Last updated November 20th, 2016 204 Reads share

Simplify your Mobile App UI to Improve Usability

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Smart phones are now so popular that two-thirds of adult Americans now own one [Pew] and on average they each spend 3 hours and 5 minutes a day using mobile apps [eMarketer]. Obviously, businesses can no longer continue to ignore mobile applications and the opportunities they provide. Mobile apps give you a powerful tool to engage with your customer base on their device of choice.

The user experience and user interface (UI) of your mobile app are two critical considerations that must be carefully evaluated. Prior to starting to design your app’s user experience and user interface, it is essential that you understand your target market and their behavior. Failing to properly focus on the user interface of your app and the needs of your users can prove to be disastrous. Users will quickly abandon an app with a poor user experience.

The design of your app’s user interface and user experience is one of the key components of being able to engage users. As the mobile app market has continued to mature, users have developed a preference for simpler user interfaces. By stripping the user interface down to its essential elements you are creating an app that is easier to use. The user experience is benefited by the clarity that simplicity provides.

You want your user interface to be clean and clear to improve usability. Apps that take this approach are easily navigated and a joy to use. The following tips will shine a light on some key thoughts to consider when designing a mobile app UI to improve usability.

Keep your UI simple

Many designers confuse keeping it simple with under-designing your app’s user interface. This isn’t what keeping it simple actually means. Your goal here is to create a user interface that is intuitive enough that the first time a user of your mobile app opens it and starts using the app they will find it easy to use and do not need to question how to operate your app. You want your app’s user interface to facilitate the user being able to perform multiple tasks using simple steps without any difficulty.

Stick to one font

By using several different fonts you will make your app look sloppy. Cut back on the number of fonts you use to create a consistent, uniform experience. Rather than choosing multiple fonts, think about using different weights, styles and sizes of your chosen font as needed. Strive to create a layout with great balance, positioning and structure.

It is recommended that you utilize the platform’s default font. iOS’s San Francisco font family will provide a consistent reading experience for iPhone and iPad users. Similarly, the Roboto and Noto font families are the standard typeface on Android devices. Using these fonts help create a more familiar experience for your users and reduce the stress that may come from using a font that lacks in legibility

Simplify your app’s color scheme

Simplifying your app’s color scheme can help improve the user experience. Having too many colors can have a negative impact upon the user experience of your application. This is part of the reason we have seen the popularity of monochromatic color schemes in recent years. Monochromatic color schemes are made up of different tints, tones, and shades of a single hue. By adding black (shade), gray (tone) or white (tint) to a single hue, you are able to generate multiple colors that work well together. By designing a color scheme in this fashion you are able to pick a palette that is not overwhelming to users.

Another option is what is known as an analogous color scheme. This type of color scheme is created by using the three colors that are next to each other on a color wheel. When you use an analogous color scheme you will want to use the different colors to visually prioritize tasks. Use your boldest color to highlight the more critical tasks while using your most subtle color for items with lower priority.

Leverage white space

Many designers will use lines to differentiate sections within a user interface. But an abundance of lines can result in a crowded and cluttered feeling interface. By choosing to use fewer lines and more white space it will give your user interfaces a cleaner, more modern and more useful look. Another option to separate content is with the use of color. This helps you define different sections of your interface in a less obtrusive manner.

Maintain consistency

Earning your customer’s loyalty is built on a foundation of trust and building trust requires consistency from your brand. Consistency makes your mobile application easier for your customers to use. From a consumers’ point of view, it helps reduce uncertainty when using your application.Users will be more likely to continue to use your app if they can easily operate it.

Consistency relates to a uniformity of the details, with attention paid to even the smallest elements in your user interface. Use of consistent language and design will make your app appear more reliable. Otherwise, users will not be able to focus on the message you are trying to convey through your app. From your user’s point of view, predictability is more important than ornamentation.

Stick to OS guidelines

When you are designing your mobile app’s user interface, it is important that you to stick to the OS’s guidelines. Your app will be carefully reviewed before being made available on the Apple app store and you want to make sure your app will meet their guidelines. Take the time out to do research on the guidelines that have been put in place before creating the user interface. Additionally, by sticking to standard guidelines you will make it easier for users to quickly understand how to use your application.

Final thoughts

While minimalist interfaces are a hot topic, remember that minimalism is not the goal. The goal for your user interface is to make it more functional and usable. Simplifying your user interface is a potent way to improve the user experience and increase the usability of your application.

Utilize simple user flows and clear visuals to help create smooth interaction, but remember that the final look of your app’s user interface will depend on the target market for your mobile application. Sticking with standard guidelines, you will create a user interface that is not only easy to understand but is also user friendly.

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Kimber Johnson

Kimber Johnson

Kimber Johnson is the co-founder of Pacific App Design, which is a sister company of Vanity Mobile Apps and ASPEN App Design. He has worked within the web development, graphics design, mobile application development, marketing and advertising fields for over 17 years.

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