User experience largely determines a good mobile app design (UX). Mobile app users are very picky and will abandon an app immediately after installing it if it doesn’t meet their expectations; therefore, you must start by conducting thorough research when creating an app to understand what your target users need.
As a mobile app designer, you should understand that the design and development of mobile apps should focus on the user interface (UI) and UX. The UI focuses on the physical aspects of an app, including its components, colors, images, graphics, and fonts, while the UX addresses an app’s functionality and usability. Of course, there are many other elements that you should consider when designing a mobile app.
Elements of a good mobile app design
When designing a mobile app, you should spend significant time figuring out how to make the user interface less complicated, which includes ensuring it doesn’t overload users with too much information. Use buttons, images, and icons sparingly to avoid cluttering the interface. The more components you include in the UI, the more complicated it becomes.
Because mobile phone displays offer limited space, your app will appear disorganized if you don’t take the time to declutter it. So, be sure to remove all the unnecessary elements from your UI and arrange everything in a simple and organized manner to make it easy for the user to navigate. Decluttering your UI improves comprehension and UX–this is one of the most important design principles for mobile apps. When organizing the interface, employ the progressive disclosure method to gradually reveal more options.
The cognitive load is the amount of brain power a user needs to use when navigating a mobile app. Because the human brain doesn’t have enough processing power, you should ensure that the design of your app offers minimum cognitive load. Bombarding the user with a lot of information simultaneously will overwhelm them and force them to give up on the task and likely uninstall the app. Your design should provide simple and well-organized information that can be quickly processed and understood.
Size of tasks
A good design for mobile apps should break large and complex tasks into small chunks. For instance, if a task requires the user to perform numerous actions and take many steps, you should divide it into several subtasks. This reduces the complexity of your tasks and the overall UI, and you shouldn’t overwhelm the user with a simple, complex task at once. If it’s an e-commerce app, the checkout process should be divided into several steps and actions.
If the user has to put too much effort into performing a task on your app, like keying in data or figuring out where to go next, then your design isn’t user-friendly. Continuously test your design for usability before you launch the app to ensure there are no overloaded tasks. For instance, look for tasks that require a lot of user effort and replace them with simpler alternatives.
Although it’s good to have a unique design for your mobile app, you shouldn’t use unfamiliar elements because they’ll confuse the user and take a long time to understand. Certain elements are considered the de facto criteria for mobile apps, such as “Search Results,” “Get Started,” and “What’s New.”
Every mobile app user expects every app to come with these elements, and they’re commonly referred to as “familiar screens.” These elements enable users to use their previous experience to interact with your mobile app easily without a learning curve.
Unlike desktop screens, mobile displays are tiny and uncomfortable to use, especially when typing, making typing on a mobile screen highly prone to errors. Therefore, try to minimize user input when designing your mobile app. For example, if your app requires the user to fill out a form, keep the form as short as possible by eliminating all unnecessary fields. You can also integrate smart features like auto-complete to help the user complete tasks.
Lastly, prioritize important elements on your user interface and give them prominence–give them more visual weight by increasing their font size and making them more colorful.