In recent years we have seen that a number of apps have registered a seat in the Apple’s App Store and Google Play Store. But even after such registration, it is not that all the apps gain popularity. The root cause of it is the design practice followed by developers. Well, designing for a desktop and for a mobile device is a completely different story. And this is especially more important when it comes to native apps. Good and bad apps are usually differentiated by the quality of user experience (UX) that they provide. In the fast-paced modern era, it is obvious that users expect an app to be fast and easy to use with some delight during the interaction, but it often happens that to make a mind-boggling experience, developers mistake in making the app more complex with reduced speed.
At Parangat, we believe “Power in Simplicity”. Let’s quickly catch up some of the app design best practices as recommended by our highly skilled eminent developers.
Understand the difference between desktop and mobile apps
At the very beginning, it should be clear to the developer that he/she is going to develop a mobile app which will have a completely different user interface than that of a desktop. It should be very clear to the developer how the iOS and Android interface looks like. Mobile apps are mostly used on the go (where desktop apps are generally made with the intent that users will spend more time than on a mobile app). So, this should be kept in mind that the user will spend a limited amount of time on it.
Minimize the cognitive load
As the processing power of the human brain is limited, so if an app provides excessive information all at once, then it can overwhelm the user which may ultimately lead to the user abandoning the task. So, here minimizing the cognitive load will minimize the amount of brain power required to use the app.
Avoid the clutter
Clutter is the biggest threat to all the hard work a developer does on an app. Cluttering overloads a user with too much information. It is terrible for a desktop, but it can be incorrigible for mobile devices. It is always a good practice to remove unnecessary things in mobile design to improve comprehension. It is a good idea to use progressive disclosure technique to show more options while keeping content and interface elements to a minimum.
Ask for permissions when required
It generally annoys a user if an app requests for all permissions at the first launch. An app should request for permission at launch only when it is required for the app’s core function, other than that it should ask for permissions only when required. Also, the app shouldn’t ask for unnecessary permission which is beyond its scope. For example, an alarm clock app asking for permission to access the call history would be irrelevant and hence be suspicious.
Minimize user input
This can be useful mostly when a user is filling out a form. Typing long texts on small mobile screens is not a comfortable experience. So, a form should contain only those fields that are absolutely necessary and some fields that can be converted to a drop-down list, e.g., Country field, should be done so. Using defaults for some fields and dynamic validation of field values can be even advantageous.
Avoid using jargons
When an app is designed it is intended for users; and if users are unable to communicate with the app, then the app stands useless. A designer should always use clear and concise language that is easily understandable to everyone.
Make navigation efficient
Navigation within the app should be very clear especially the “back” button. Often a user may click on the wrong option leading him to the wrong screen. There comes the role of the “back” button to take him back to the original screen. Efficient navigation makes it easier to use an app.
Make touch compatible apps
The mobile interface in now mainly touch based. So, it gets vital to make targets big enough that they’re easy for users to tap on. For reference, designers can rely on the MIT Touch Lab’s study for choosing proper size for interactive elements. Other than this, it is also essential to have the right amount of space between targets so that the exact button gets clicked.
Optimize push notification
A recent study has found that annoying notifications is the main reason why people uninstall a mobile app. The notification that an app sends should be well timed and valuable.
Design for both operating systems
While designing, an app developer always has the challenge of deciding how the app behaves on both iOS and Android devices. Where Apple’s flat design style has become very hot in recent years, the Material Design led Android app UI design has also gained appreciable popularity. To start with, developers can research by studying the material design guidelines and the iOS human interface guidelines – these are a great source of information for mobile designers.
Test your design
Howsoever carefully a designer design’s an app, there is always a change of an issue creeping in. A perfectly molded app that looks great on designer’s screen may not look even half as good when tested on a real mobile device. So, testing plays a crucial role in the design process. It can happen that at this stage the app may require re-design.
Create feedback loop
Wherever possible, a designer should encourage feedback. And to collect the valuable feedback, the designer needs to make it simple for users to provide it. Different users have a different mindset. A designer has to extract out the common path to be followed to satisfy users needs.
While there can be better ways for mobile app designing, whether it be on an iOS device or an Android device, it is solely up to the developer to make his design worth for users. Today, with the growing market, people expectation is also growing. Everyone needs an app that is “simply the best” and the hunt for the best is an ongoing process. It’s true that the best app practically doesn’t exist but it’s the “strive for the best” that keeps the market moving.