App Design UI: The Top 9 Tips to Deliver a Great User Experience

Mobile apps provide an opportunity for businesses and designers to reach more people than ever before. No longer are business owners limited to reaching out to customers via phone, mailing campaigns or in-store. Today, your company is available 24/7 through a website and mobile apps, which go with users everywhere. Developing an app allows you to send push notifications to users and meet a particular set of customer needs.

Unfortunately, not all apps work the way they should. Some are downright frustrating and make little sense to the user. Creating a great app design UI and experience (UX) for mobile isn’t as simple as it sounds. Researchers predict that by 2020, mobile apps will generate about $188.9 billion in revenue. There is still plenty of room for growth, but there are also some design practices that don’t work well. For every good app, there are three that don’t translate well in real life.

Users have the option of thousands of apps from which to choose. If you want yours to grab user interest in a sea of other choices, it needs to stand out. One way of achieving an app people use frequently is focusing on the user experience. Every designer has a different way of creating apps, but they all have some elements in common. Here are nine ways you can deliver the best experience possible to your mobile users.

1. Spend Time Planning

Before you create a single element of the app design UI, spend time planning which problem it solves and its overall structure. Dig into the personas of the people most likely downloading the app, so you know the audience you’re trying to reach. Understanding your audience crosses every aspect of development, from the layout of your navigation to the way you promote your software.

Some designers use wireframing to create a sort of blueprint for their design. This allows the app creator to try out different elements and see how they work in the architecture of the program. It saves time, as you can determine what might create issues before spending hours coding something that won’t work into the app. Think about the age of the user and even how large their hands might be — bigger buttons work better for men who sometimes have larger hands than women, for example.

2. Develop for the Type of Device

Even though iOS is popular, there is a percentage of people who will always have an Android. You can choose to develop for only one or both. If time allows, go ahead and create apps for both systems. While you might wind up getting more downloads on Apple than Google Play, you’ll meet the needs of all your users — no matter which operating system they’re using. Also, keep in mind that the behavior of Android versus iPhone varies, so you’ll need to factor in the way each segment uses their smartphones and tablets.

Survey your current customers and ask if they own iOS or Android. If 90 percent of your customers are on iOS, then releasing your iOS-compatible app first may be the best choice for your budget and time considerations. While it’s smart to offer both options, you should always focus on where you can get the most bang for your buck first and then add on other platforms when you can afford to.

app design UI

MindMeister is a mind-mapping tool that works well for brainstorming and project collaboration. MindMeister is available online and for mobile devices, and can be used for both iOS and Android. One of the advantages of this particular app is that it integrates across multiple device types. If you own an Android tablet and an iPhone, you can seamlessly use the different versions of the app from both items without losing a beat.

3. Divide Big Tasks Into Subtasks

Think about the way people use their smartphones. The typical user grabs their phone while in a waiting room or riding in a subway to and from work. They may not have an hour to complete a big chunk of a task, but if you separate large functions into smaller ones, then the person can do things as time allows. Users also may not like endless scrolling, so breaking actions down to fit on a single screen at a time is an improvement in overall UX.

One way of making sure your big tasks are doable for busy people is testing the system. Set a timer for 30 seconds and see if you can complete the job in that time. If not, how can you break it down further, so part of it is completed in 30 seconds? You’ll also want to create your app so if a user has to leave the process for a bit and return, it will pick back up where the user left off.

4. Create a Rich Experience

You’ve heard the advice to keep things simple, but that doesn’t mean your app should be boring. The most recent smartphones have high screen resolutions and offer images and videos in high definition. It’s important to find a balance between rich media within your apps and speed. Graphics need to be optimized to load quickly, but still be bold and sharp, so users are visually satisfied.

Remember that your users have other choices, and they’ve decided to use your app instead. If you don’t keep them entertained and engaged, then you risk losing them to a competitor’s app. Yours must be both visually pleasing and highly usable.

app design UI: best 9 Tips Best User Experience for Your Mobile App

HotelTonight uses vivid images that make users want to travel to different locations where they might book a room through its app. The focus of its features are functionality, but the app doesn’t ignore the aesthetics of design, creating a nice mix of images and elements. The calls to action often sit on top of the background image.

5. Create a Clear Progression of Steps

When you’re moving users through the various parts of their journey, make it clear what the next step will be. If the user clicks on an actionable button, immediately slide the screen into the next step. You can also use elements such as numbering things: Step 1, Step 2 and so on.

Another idea is utilizing icons, such as arrows, to show the user where to go next. Simple words, such as “Scroll down” or “Swipe left,” offer clear direction to people and make your app simple enough for even beginners.

6. Highlight Calls to Action With Color

Deliver a Great User Experience for Your Mobile AppA burst of contrasting color draws attention to calls to action (CTAs) and clearly shows users what they need to do to use the app. Once you know who your users are, you’ll have a better idea of what color buttons might work best to grab their attention and drive them forward through the app’s functions. You can also conduct split testing to see which colors and button sizes work best for your specific audience.

There are various studies on the color of CTAs some experts think work best, but other studies contradict the findings. The takeaway is that different colors, shapes and placement work best for various types of audiences, so you have to find the best combination for the results you’re seeking.

Mobile app UX: Highlight Calls to Action With Color

Hwy 55 Burgers, Shakes & Fries app utilizes red and pink buttons that pop against the pastel background. The user’s eye tracks to the buttons, and they know they should take one of the actions listed, such as scanning a receipt or viewing their rewards. The colors match the palette on the company’s website and in its restaurants, while using favorite shades from the 1950s and setting a tone of a fun time in history.

7. Create a Style Guide

Once your app design UI is out for a while, you’ll want to offer updates and additional features. Once you’ve released your app and tested for usability, create a detailed style guide. You’ll understand what your users like about your app and can add details to the manual, which you should follow for all future updates.

If your users adore larger buttons because they’re baby boomers and have trouble seeing small text on little buttons, then your style guide should indicate that. On the other hand, if your audience is millennials and they prefer skimmable material, you’ll add details to your guide about keeping explanations short or image-based.

Your style guide should include details on the color palette, button styles, language preferences — first person, second person, third person — and even other features you know work particularly well. Indicate preferred methods and elements to avoid in order to remain consistent.

8. Cut Clutter

Over time, you’ll add features to your app. However, they can also create clutter on the screen. Nothing is quite as confusing to the user as 20 different options and uncertainty about where to start. To create a genuinely user-friendly app, you must cut the clutter and hone in on only the vital elements. Any additional features are icing on the cake and should be added after mastering the basics.

Start by thinking about the primary purpose of your app. Do you want users to be able to see what new items arrived in your store this week? Is your app meant to track healthy food? The user should be able to add what they ate by clicking a single button and entering the item in the search bar. Keep things simple and to the point, and your UX will automatically improve.

best ux mobile app tips

Find My Friends is Apple’s app that allows people to find family and friends in their area and see how far they are from arriving for a visit. It also keeps track of family members, such as teen children. When you first log in to the app, you’re given the choice of looking who you are already connected with or adding friends. The options are simple and to the point.

The only elements on that initial page are buttons that let you look or add. You must navigate to a specific name or location on the map to get more detailed information. The app works perfectly for someone throwing a party and wanting to see how far away guests are from arriving.

9. Consider Finger Placement

Creating designs that work well with specific devices requires familiarity with the product type. Think about the way most people navigate on their phones: Their thumbs are near the bottom of the screen. Add navigation elements so they won’t have to reach for them, and be sure to make them as natural as possible.

The only way to create the right placement is by testing it yourself as the designer. For example, put a button where you think it would be easiest to access, and then beta test the location and see if it is more accessible there or needs adjustment. It’s also a good idea to pull in additional beta testers, as some people hold their phones differently than others. Any navigational elements and actionable buttons must be as easy to use as possible.

We interviewed several UX professionals on this subject. Here are their responses to our questions;

Michael Prestonise at Global App Testing says;

How do you plan out your UX strategy?

Our UX strategy is carefully planned with the aim of delivering value to the customer in a way that is technically feasible and helps the business achieve its objectives. Crafting that strategy involves aggregating the results from a variety of research methodologies, including customer interviews, quantitative data analyses, market analyses, customer segmentation. Those aggregated results are then assessed and prioritized to identify key opportunity areas.

Which tools do you use for UI/UX design and why?

For UI design, we use Figma. This is an entirely web-based platform that streamlines collaboration, as it is easy to share work and designs with anyone who may need to contribute. Similarly to Google Docs, everything our developers need can be shared remotely and simply. In terms of UX design, the tools we use include a notebook & pen(!), whiteboard, and collaborative tools like Miro and Whimsical. Miro is an excellent tool for remote developers, as you can conduct retrospective workshops to ask what went well and what didn’t and vote on topics to discuss within the team.

Do you create style guides? If so, which tools do you use and why?

We have a design system that helps us create consistent visual experiences across a variety of platforms (the marketing website, the customer-facing application, the tester-facing application, etc.) UI components that derive their styles from the design system have been atomized in Figma, and allow designers to use them throughout the process.

JD Jordan at MaxMedia mentions;

How do you plan out your UX strategy?

We always start with a discovery and recommendations phase—even for unconventional UX projects, like more traditional branding and graphic design projects. One of our UX leads will engage in user and stakeholder interviews, competitive and comparative analyses, and current-state audits when possible. From this research, we’ll identify the gap a solution might have the best impact filling. Often this is a combination of designing an improved solution and creating a more impactful perception. This process also suggests a roadmap—be it for one project or many—that oftent combines, UX, UI, front-end, content, and marketing.

Our solutions are always unique because our clients are. We think a lot about empathy. Firstly, because knowing how our users feel and what they need make us better designers. That’s basic user-centered design. But having empathy for what’s important to our clients also makes us better partners. We’re not designing solutions for ourselves, and that may be most important to remember with mobile design because we have such intimate relationships with those devices. Empathy is the most human thing anyone can do and we are lucky enough to get paid to do it.

Which tools do you use for Ui/UX design and why?

We try to be tool-agnostic but have refined a preferred UI/UX design process. We always start with pen and paper (or pen and marker board)—even if only very briefly—before moving in low-fidelity IA and wireframes. Several of our team use Axure to wireframe because its toolset makes lower-fidelity work earlier to compose and prototype. Alternately, most of the team move straight into Sketch where the work can transition from low- to high-fidelity within a single file. Sketch is also valuable because it integrates well with InVision and masterfully with Zeplin, which we use for asset collection, preparation, and hand-off to front-end development.

One of our clients prefers Adobe XD but this is not our normal process. And we never ever use Balsamic. If you want something to look hand drawn, draw it by hand.

Do you create style guides? If so, which tools do you use and why?

Always—even if only for internal use. These take a variety of forms:

Message and brand standards may be created using presentation or document tools like Keynote or Word. We try to keep these documents living as much as possible and greatly prefer online formats such as basic WordPress websites so the style guide materials can evolve over time. A simple PDF will become dated the second it’s sent out and rarely links to necessary materials.

UI pattern and asset style guides are typically built using a combination of Sketch and Zeplin. The former’s use of symbols translates particularly well to the latter‘s code-centric audience. And, again, this combination lives and evolves over time (e.g. over sprints and successive projects) to minimize the design and development debt created by static style guides.

Steve Molloy UI/UX Designer at Lomah Studios explains;

How do you plan out your UX strategy?

Create a strategy which clearly defines the user goals and stakeholder business objectives. This also needs to address the frustrations and the pain points of the product or service. UX Design is more of a science with proven sets of methodologies. Great design happens when good UX strategy has been applied. Understanding and incorporate the analytics/data from the back-end will help validate ideas before the implementation of the design or development.

Most UX Strategies involve around 7-10 steps which are based around these:
1. Strategy
2. Research
3. user scenarios
4. Communication and Usability
5. Visual Design
6. Test your product
7. Analyse the data

Prioritise function over beauty. Define the WHAT? WHO? and WHY?.
Why are we doing this?
Who is it for?
What value does it bring?
What are the business goals and user needs?
What can we realistically do?
What are we creating exactly?

“If I had an hour to solve a problem, I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes about solutions.” — Albert Einstein

Which tools do you use for Ui/UX design and why?

Adobe XD, Adobe CS, Sketch, InVision, Marvel, Origami Studio etc. These work efficiently together and licensing can be flexible with subscriptions etc.

Do you create style guides? If so, which tools do you use and why?

Stylify me and Frontify are the most intuitive programs with the least amount of friction from my clients.

App Design UI: UX Is Everything

When it comes to creating an app that people download and regularly open, usability is of the utmost importance. Have you ever downloaded an app that sounded great but was difficult to use in real-life applications? You likely deleted it off your phone and forgot all about it. Your app needs to meet user expectations so well they feel they can’t live without it.

Your app should meet a need the user has and then create something that makes their lives easier or better. The more you put yourself into the consumer’s shoes and meet those needs, the more successful your designs become. These nine tips should make it easier to connect with users and enhance their experience, so your app is seen as a vital part of their lives.

 

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