Smartphone users depend on apps for all sorts of things. Apps can provide important information, entertainment, convenient services and more. This growing reliance on mobile apps has been the source of a lot of opportunities for businesses. Businesses now see that apps can be great for connecting with customers and in many cases, an app can be a business all on its own.
While building an app can have all sorts of benefits, there is a lot of competition. At the time of writing, there are more than 3.4 million apps on the Google Play Store and over 2.2 million on Apple’s App Store. If users are unsatisfied with your app, they will simply uninstall and look for something that serves them better.
Creating a good mobile app takes time and effort. However, all of this work can be undone by making simple mistakes in UX design. The following are a few UX tips to help designers create apps people will love using.
Make Text Easy to Follow
Text can be an issue on the smaller screen of a mobile phone. You might need text, but you want to make sure it is easy to read. Most people do not want to read a lot of text content when they use mobile apps, so you want to be concise and you should limit text to what is necessary.
Beyond that, you need to think about typography. Your typography choices can make a big difference as it concerns the look and readability of text in your app. If you are working with a startup branding agency, they should be able to help you select the right typography for an app. Otherwise, you will need to be careful about things like font choice and the size of the typeface.
Follow the Guidelines of the OS
You need to stick with the design conventions of the platform. Whether you are developing for Android or iOS, the platform will have guidelines for designing a mobile app UX. By following these guidelines, you are not only following the guidelines of the platform, but you are also using conventions that will help the app meet the expectations of users.
Beyond following the guidelines laid out by the platform, there are also different tips and best practices most developers will follow. Regardless of whether you are developing for iOS or Android, you should try to learn about the latest development trends and conventions the top developers are using for the given platform.
Make it Easy to Navigate
This is often an issue for those who are new to app development. They design an app that seems clear and easy to navigate to them, but when they hand it over to real users, people can’t figure the app out. If an app is hard to navigate, users will uninstall and they might never give it another chance.
A good tip is to follow common UI screen designs. These designs have been in so many apps and users are already familiar with how they work. Designers should also make navigation elements obvious and easy to find. It can also help if you use the navigation bar in Android and the tab bar for iOS apps.
Design for Fingers and Thumbs
You don’t want to carry desktop designs over to your mobile app. It is not point and click with a mobile app – you need to design for taps and swipes. Buttons and other elements should be big enough to easily tap and swipe with a finger. You should also avoid putting interactive elements too close together to avoid missed presses that cause unwanted inputs on the part of the user.
Beyond fingers, you should also consider the thumb zone. Many users will expect to be able to achieve the basic functions of the app by holding the phone in one hand. That means you should make some of the functions accessible in the thumb zone on the screen. If users have to stretch or they can’t reach the features they want, they might feel unsatisfied with the UI.
You want new users to be able to get into the experience with very few obstacles. If users need to provide some information to get started, make it easy to fill the fields out. If some elements need to be explained, try to make it quick and easy.
The ideal experience is to set it up so users can just install the app, open it and start using the service right away. If you can avoid forcing people to sign up for an account or provide information, that will help you create a better experience for first-time users.
Make it Familiar
Most apps will have a range of different buttons and UI elements. When it comes to these interactive elements of the app, you do not want to reinvent the wheel. You might think a new or unique design is interesting, but it might confuse users. For this reason, you want to stick with common UI elements they already know.
Stick with standard rectangle buttons. Use things like dropdowns, list boxes and checkboxes. You should also consider elements like hamburger menus, sliders, icons, breadcrumbs, pickers, toggles and more. It might not take a lot of creativity to use these common elements, but they are familiar and people will know how to use them without explanation.
Clutter is the enemy of a good user interface. You might have a lot of information you want to impart, images you like or actions you want people to be able to take, but you do not want to overwhelm users. The more you try to pack into the tiny phone screen of an app the harder it will be for users to figure out what you want them to do or how to achieve their goals.
A good tip is to try to limit the number of actions a person can take on any single screen. You should also define the purpose of a screen and then remove everything that does not help the user get to the next stage of the journey. With a nice, clean design, the app screens will look more appealing and it will simplify the experience for users.
Beyond following these tips, usability testing is one of the best ways to ensure a good user experience. Even when you follow the best practices for app design, you never know if the UX is a success until it is being used by real people.