Learn How to Build a Beautiful Mobile App
When it comes to making a drop dead gorgeous app, less really is more. Simplicity sells. Though it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer number of options at your disposal and the different approaches you can experiment with. Not to mention how many guides you’d come across after just your first search query on the web.
All this can be a little too much to digest, especially if you’re a novice developer. Want to create intuitive, attention-grabbing apps and don’t know where to begin? Take these design tips into consideration.
Know Thy Basics
Put down some of your basic goals:
- Target audience
- How adept they are at using the kind of app you’re building
- How the app will deliver the experience to them
- Functionality of the app according to user preferences
Once you have a clear and transparent understanding of the challenges you’re going to face, and how to overcome them, you can work on a proper design protocol to follow throughout.
Create a Map
Let me tell you why a wireframe is important.
It acts as a blueprint of your app’s navigation or screen flow. During this phase, you want to keep the layout to a bare minimum – cut down pages as much as you can, without eliminating the basic premise. Ever heard of the 3-click rule? Visitors usually storm off your site if they don’t have the desired info at their fingertips within three clicks.
Now that’s a good one to live by, though it doesn’t necessarily apply to every app’s design and UI. Being said, I’d recommend you keep a lid on too many page offshoots from the main screen. Stick to simple navigation. Simple works, always has, probably always will!
The general idea is to let users get accustomed to your screen flow – memorize mental steps or maps so to speak – so they know exactly where to go even after returning to your app after a reasonable gap. Think first-person shooters: a great FPS will always have the level designed in a way to make navigating back and forth easy for the gamer.
Your Audience’s Needs are Important
Behind every successful app is a sound understanding of the audience’s core needs and desires.
Say, you’re designing a kids’ game, you’re going to be using big and bright icons along with playful fonts. Similarly, an app designed for businesspeople or corporate head honchos will sport sophisticated and slick fonts with dull or preferably faded colors to give it that elegant “uppity-class businessman” look.
You’ve got to cater to every audience’s preferences while keeping their capabilities in mind.
A Design Has to be Intuitive
Anywhere you go, anybody you talk to, you’ll probably hear the same mantra: make it intuitive. Well, easier said than done, right? How exactly do you implement something that sounds a bit vague to begin with?
Here’s what I recommend you do:
- Most developers think it’s good practice to include brief how-tos in their app to better guide users of all demographics and capabilities. While this is certainly helpful in complex apps and some games, it doesn’t always stick when we’re talking good mobile design. Your app’s design and navigation should be simple enough so as to eliminate the need for a tutorial altogether.
- Avoid making your app too wordy – wherever possible, replace words with easy-to-understand icons which let users instantly jump between pages.
- Common and popular tools should be right in your user’s sights at all times. Transparent icons present on every screen will make it a breeze for your users to get to any point in the app. Or if you want to try something else, have the home button or search field (or both) in the top right or perhaps, top center of the screen.
- Native control best practices: follow these. Your app should complement the platform it is meant for so that users are welcomed with the same streamlined experience they are used to. It’s good to be creative, but straying too far from tried and true methodologies may not lead to favorable outcomes. Keep in mind what customers prefer on any given platform, and design your app around that.
How to Understand User Experience
Every minute detail matters. The moment users open your app, they should be graced with heart-warming functionality that instantly puts an ear to ear smile on their face. Right to the point they take notice of how much thought and detail you put into the UX design.
- Going with high resolution graphics every time. Not unless you’re making a game that brings back the pixely 80s arcade games nostalgia.
- Designing the app to load in under two seconds. People are always attracted towards apps that open quickly. A second’s loading time is even better.
- Making the app powerful enough to properly function offline as well. You can’t assume your user is always connected to WiFi, so they should be able to use the app without a connection. Even if it’s an app that requires the internet to function, you really should consider adding features that let users access at least some key features offline as well.
- Keeping the sign up and/or log in pages clean and simple while integrating social media.
How to Understand User Interface
When it comes to choosing the right color template, you’ll find guides by the dozen that encourage you to check out competing apps in order to get a gist of what’s hot. This is a good place to start, but it’s all too easy to get tempted and copy another developer’s ideology, while throwing in a few bits of your own.
This is generally not a very clever approach. Looking for inspiration is fine, but you’ll need to come up with a completely original design that’s fresh and consistent with your branding. If you don’t have a unique identity, your users might as well just pick up your competitors’ apps.
Tap into your inner-designer juices, and let them flow. For instance, a high variety of colors might come off as distracting, even loud. Having less than the recommended number of contrasting colors could leave your users confused so as to what the primary focus of the app is.
Some Standout Examples
Here are three apps that I feel in my quite humble opinion, have done it really well in terms of an intuitive design:
Immediately, you’re going to notice the special attention given to creating a seamless user experience. It allows users to easily manage reservations, search properties and book right from within the app. Data is loaded incrementally and there are never any performance hiccups.
Photo editing on your smartphone at its best, Litely’s central theme revolves around simplicity: a design and UI boasting sophistication and elegance. You don’t see much happening apart from the photo editing itself. Simply beautiful.
This app induces users to think positively and make each moment feel more meaningful, which is exactly what goes behind the design philosophy: a simple, yet positive and vibrant interface inviting users in with enthusiasm.
Navigation is smooth and straightforward without the need for too many swipes or taps. Simplicity and elegance beautifully wrapped in one package.
Let me reiterate: less really is more when it comes to a beautiful mobile app design. You have a small screen and you can’t afford to have colors and icons mashed in a way so as to confuse users or turn them off. You need to have ample white space in your app since key elements and features should pop and be easy to identify.
What’s your app design philosophy? We’d love to know your thoughts and comments below. In addition, you can discuss mobile app design with our app development vets.