There are more than 4 billion apps combined on Google Play and the Apple App Store, and that number is set to grow at a rapid pace for years to come.
With those kinds of numbers, there’s no doubt that marketers from all over the world are trying to take advantage of the amazing opportunities with app development. But at the same time, it shows just how crazy saturated the market has become, which makes breaking into almost any industry incredibly difficult.
Still, even though you might be competing with hundreds or even thousands of apps, there will always be opportunities to excel and gain an edge over the competition, especially if you know how to cater to the needs of the audience that you’re trying to reach.
Therefore, when figuring out how to make an app, your top priority should always be customer satisfaction. Selecting a theme, figuring out a name, and having robust features are all a must, but if your app’s usability and user interface suck, you won’t have much luck luring users away from other options that are available.
So, to help you address this vital step of the app design process, let’s explore some of the most important mobile app interface design aspects that you should consider.
Determine the Purpose of the App
Every app, no matter how complicated or how simple, has a primary purpose, which it needs to perform well if it is going to attract any users. Unfortunately, many designers get lost in the details of the development process and end up overcomplicating the most crucial step, which is boiling down the app to its very essence.
Before you do anything else, you should take the time to figure out what your app is all about. Who are the people that you want using it? What purpose does it serve? Why should users choose your app over the competition?
These are just some of the questions that you should answer before you go any further in your interface development process, as they will serve as a foundation that will be a guide for every UX decision that you make.
When you know why your app needs to exist in the first place, you’ll have a much easier time determining how to structure your home page, what types of notifications should you emphasize, how to structure navigation, and even how you will make your users perform the actions that you want them to.
Although there are certainly plenty of complicated steps that go into designing a flawless mobile app design, spending sufficient time mapping out the essential functions and the primary purpose will make every part of the process that follows much simpler and easier to break down into actionable steps.
Use Sound Design Principles
When designing a user interface for your app, it’s always a good idea to look for new ideas and ways to make the users’ experience more convenient. But at the same time, you can’t expect to completely reinvent the process that has been used when developing millions upon millions of apps.
First off, you should make your app simple, to the point, and focused. Remove anything superfluous and focus on the core messages and functions that you want the user to see. Only when you have a strong core framework can you begin looking for ways to add to the experience and branch out into a broader range of features.
That’s especially true for visual elements, as they can both provide a clear guide telling users what to do next and a distraction that doesn’t add real value and makes your app more cluttered and less convenient.
Follow sound design practices by using simple color schemes, clear navigation buttons, and a guided design that drives users to perform the action that they need to take next.
An effective interface also requires a purposeful structure that binds together sections that are related and logically separate those that need to have their own navigation paths. You should use easy-to-recognize patterns in your structure design, so don’t be afraid to look into some apps with an excellent user interface for inspiration and framework models.
You should make a conscious effort to maintain consistency throughout your app, and make sure that your navigation, presentation, and design all follow an underlying logic that’s consistent no matter what the user is doing. At the same time, it’s also essential to look into the logic behind the format that you’re using, so that it’s actually functional and not merely a repetitive pattern for the sake of being one.
Ask any experienced designer about the most critical part of any app design, and they will tell you that it’s testing. Sure, you can try to get away with launching your app as is, but in the long run, that will only end up hurting your reputation, your brand, and your sales.
When you launch an app that isn’t ready to be published, you are not only risking it not doing its job, but can quickly taint your app’s reputation, receive a flood of negative reviews, and doom it from the very beginning.
At that point, it won’t matter that you will fix the bugs and issues later on, as restoring the trust of your key audiences will be virtually impossible.
But even though you probably understand the importance of testing and are prepared to take as long as it takes, you need to have an understanding of how to approach it, as well as what tools you should use to make the process more efficient.
Using tools like Sketch Mirror or Hyperion, you can test various mobile devices with different screen sizes and specs, determining exactly what’s working and what isn’t, and learning how to address the most prominent issues.
When you spot even the slightest problem, you should not move forward until you can resolve it because fixing it later will only become more complicated, especially once you add on more features and design elements.
Besides testing functionality on various devices, you should make sure that the app serves its primary function and doesn’t have any bottlenecks or glaring issues that could hamper its performance.
Once you’re done with the initial testing phase, you should consider running a test with a group of real-world participants using a range of devices to see if they can spot any minor or major issues that you might have missed.
A crucial part of the testing process is recording every change and update that you make so that you can keep track of the mistakes that you were able to resolve and not stumble into the same issues later on.
After the initial launch, be prepared to deal with additional issues that may come up promptly. When you release your app to the broader public, it will be put through a much more rigorous test, which is likely to uncover at least minor issues that will need to be fixed as soon as possible.
Finally, keep a close eye to your reviews and be open to constructive criticism from the users. You may find that ideas that you thought were good might actually not work very well in practice, so you should always listen for what users have to say, and if you see a pattern, be willing to make the necessary changes.
Since you’re likely entering an already-saturated app marketplace, you will need to find a way to stand out from the competition. That will require you to discover the most common functionality and interface issues and eliminate them from your app.
Developing an app is a process that takes time, effort, and experience, especially when you consider just how competitive the app marketplaces have become in recent years.
Still, no matter what market you are trying to break into, you can always find a way to carve out a place for your app if you just listen to your audience’s needs and satisfy a demand that is not met by others.
If you have a clear purpose for your app, use sound design principles, and rigorously test for errors and problems, you will eventually start excelling and will position your app to become a leading solution in your field.