Mobile

10 User Interface Design Principles that Mobile App Developers Must Follow

Banking app concept by Ondrej Kostolňák

Banking app concept by Ondrej Kostolňák

This guest column is by Ashni Sharma, ‎Sr. Developer & App Marketing, AppsChopper

With an over populated app market to cope with, you have few seconds to impress the users with your app. These few seconds have to be made counted or your prospective user will look for the alternatives that are available in large numbers. The first impression should be therefore, imposing and must offer some unique elements that no other app does. There are millions of mobile apps across several mobile platforms but very few are able to make the cut, and the user experience has a lot to do with it.

There are obviously certain limitations when you are designing the interface for an app, these have to be dealt with care. When users interact with the apps, they want them to be relevant, smooth and most importantly high on usability. It needs to be comprehended that design and development go hand in hand and you cannot isolate the two process. Just like the design of the car affects its aerodynamics, the design of the app has tremendous impact on the performance of the app.

Design Exercises Keeping the Performance Factor in Mind

Crafting any design requires certain considerations that would affect its performance and usability. Just as a bridge is designed to withstand the wind and traffic, keeping its aesthetics intact, an app too needs to be built in a similar fashion. The user interface design of an app has substantial effect on content presentation, features, navigation, hardware access, graphics and hence, performance.

Performance of an app is considered the sole responsibility of the developer and design team considers this factor quite late in the designing phase. This is one of the crucial mistakes that is often committed and has serious repercussions. High performance can be achieved only when the design discussions also accommodate the topic of performance and incorporate these UI factors while designing.

Relevant mobile UI factors that need to be considered

Within the app
  • Content
  • Graphics
  • Features
  • Navigation
  • Interaction
Back-end
  • Database
  • APIs
Mobile and Network
  • Operating system
  • Hardware features of the device
  • Network coverage

These user interface elements are those that can be very crucial for an app and are mostly impacted by the user interface of the app.

Design Exercises with Business and Market in Perspective

A mobile app is built with a target audience in mind which might expand at a later stage. The app has to strike the right chord with the sensibilities, preferences, and expectations of the app users and offer an user experience which is not only new but fresh. When you are out with a product in hand, a detailed study of the market must precede it, and product design must be in sync with the information gathered. This theory also holds true for the mobile apps, irrespective of the platform.

There is an intense competition in the mobile app industry, and you have to be on your toes to stay relevant and popular. A new app in the market has to compete with the already established ones, which makes the battle a lot more arduous.

Before you start to design your mobile app, ask yourself these two questions:
   • What different your app has to do than your rivals?
   • What better your app can do than your rivals?

The success of a mobile app boils down to its performance and usability. If you are making a technically superior feature, couple it with a great design and ensure the utmost smoothness in the feature. This will surely help your app establish itself and enhance the brand value.

10 UI Design Principles to Stick to while App Designing

Follow these principles to create the UI designs that accelerates and enhances the app’s performance and cater to the users in the way they expect.

1. UI should reflect the brand story

The ultimate aim to launch the mobile app is to reach out to the mobile users and expand the horizon of the brand. A well designed app that offers an unmatched user experience is a must for this purpose. The user interface of the app must be a manifestation of the brand, and the users must connect to it. Every brand has a story and that must be showcased through the app design.

2. Identify the primary users

Before you start to code the app, you need to be sure about the audience that you intend to target. The user interface design should also be in sync with it and must be able to solve the problem without making things very complex. For instance, a user while shopping online wants the products to be displayed in high resolution and a simple checkout process that memorizes the payment methods and other details. The user interface should be designed accordingly.

3. UI flows should be optimized

The flow from one screen to another should be optimized to ensure that there is no waiting time as it annoys the users and make them look for the alternatives. Optimization of the UI flows and other elements of the app make the app faster and more usable. You can enhance both the perceived performance and the actual elements in the app. As designers cannot control the network speed or processing speed of the device; additional screens may be used to keep the user busy while the app fetches the desired information.

Elements that can be optimized to make the app faster are images, videos, maps, and other content.

4. Strike a balance between UI and performance

When the performance of the app which include loading time, content display, navigation etc., is not considered while UI design, it is seriously impacted when code is written for the app. Hence, a balance must be maintained between the interface and the performance of the app. It can be achieved by taking into account all the performance factors and creating the design around them.

5. Take the help of the experts

When you are out to develop an app that has the right blend of aesthetics and functionalities, expert designers are indispensable. The kind of user experience that entices the users and keep them glued to the app requires designers who have crisp understanding of the front-end programming and are aware of the design’s purpose. Design elements like layouts, animations and graphics have performance implications and hence, they need to be dealt by those designers who are masters of their craft.

6. Keep your design platform specific

Every mobile platform is distinct in appearance and has some design peculiarities that define it. When you are designing an app, you cannot use the same design layout for all the mobile operating systems for instance, Android, iOS, and Windows. Even if you are launching your app across all the platforms, simply porting the code from one platform to another will not suffice. The look and feel of the app should be completely modified to honor the different platforms. Using similar layouts and design elements can also lead to performance issues.

7. Make the most of mobile capabilities

Smartphones are laced with a plethora of amazing features that must be made most of. The apps can leverage these features that enhance the usability of the app. One of these features is high resolution HD screen and the apps can make the most of it by using the high definition images so that the users are mesmerized by the appearance. There are several such features that can be instrumental in augmenting the beauty of the app.

8. Choose the graphical metaphor with care

Graphic metaphors refers to the common icons that are used in place of the text. For example, icons of power button, red button for recording and various others are used to save space and enhance the look and feel of the app. While choosing these metaphors, it must be ensured that they must not be obsolete or else the new age users will not be able to recognize the icons leading to confusion. Such situation might cause hindrance in acceptance of the app and hence, can impact the success.

9. Keep the design clutter free

The users do not want to see a lot of options and content in the app as it causes distraction. A lot of care should be exercised while choosing the content and features on every screen of the app. Only the most important, relevant and necessary functionalities should be added to the screens so that the users are served with the options that they require. App design team must be in consultation with the development and business team to come up with design layouts that serve the purpose in entirety without stuffing the screen with unnecessary clutter.

10. UX should be layered

The user experience must be layered. It implies that while the app must excite the new users with its design and performance, it must also have different features that unfold while the users interact more with the app. It keeps the interest of the users intact as they discover more functionality upon deeper involvement with the app.

Closing Thoughts

It is quite evident that the user interface design of a mobile app holds much importance as it is directly responsible for the performance of the app and thus, also impacts its success. These UI design principles will go a long way in helping you design the apps with market, end users and overall app performance taken into account.

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