Two crucial elements to consider when developing a mobile app are User Experience and User Interface. You need the mobile app to keep up with the speed of thought, maintain user interest and ensure that the navigation is clear for both new and experienced app users.
Getting the balance just right can be tricky as there are a lot of elements to consider. To narrow it down, we have come up with our top five tips on designing a powerful mobile app.
Know your Audience
Designing for your audience is the first step in building a goal-driven mobile app. Defining your target user as a ‘marketer aged between 20-30 years old’ isn’t going to cut the mustard. Before you get started, think about these three elements:
Create an in-depth analysis of your users’ mindset by developing a persona. This will help determine the behaviours and motivations behind decision making.
- User Stories
Map out how your user will use your product by setting up stories and scenarios. Design an experience that will smoothly transition them to achieving their end goal
- Experience Maps
Taking the user stories a step further, an experience map will uncover ways to optimise processes and the overall user experience.
User Flows and Wireframes
Creating wireframes or a ‘user flow’ can start out as a sketch on a piece of paper. Think about how content and user behaviours interact.
Alternatively, ideas can be fleshed out using the writing-first approach. By building flows around content will give you a better understanding of how many pages you will be creating, which in turn will evolve into UX sketches and building digital wireframes. Jessica Downey writes about the writing-first approach in her article ‘Jumpstarting your app conception without sketching UI’.
Without really knowing it, users have become accustomed to seeing certain patterns and logos which aids their understanding of prompts and navigation tools.
Make you users feel at home by sticking to what they know rather than expecting them to learn a new pattern. For example, use an envelope icon for mail or using red for errors. Look at common mobile patterns for inspiration.
Keep it Simple
Simplicity is one of the key design principals. Do not fill your mobile app with clutter the user doesn’t want, need or understand. Carefully consider what features you incorporate and always ensure that the app remains useful.
Use the space you have wisely. Many apps now favour hidden menus rather than traditional navigation. Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer advises that designers stick to the ‘two-tap rule’. “Once you’re in the app, is it two taps to do anything you want to do? If no, time to redesign the app”
It is vital to ensure that your app is usable on a number of devices and operating systems. The app needs to look and work as expected so ensure that CSS and Java Script is tweaked to iron out any handling issues early on.