UI for mobile apps – How to create a nice and useful product?

The user interface (UI) plays a critical role in the development of any mobile product. If you want to design a functional and attractive mobile app, there are a few things you need to take care of in terms of its UI. 

 

In this article, we take a closer look at the best practices of UI for mobile apps. Read on to find out what UI design is all about and what can happen if you fail to take proper care of it.

Why is it worth investing in UI design?

Developing an efficient and attractive app UI is a priority for business owners who want their product to succeed. Note that ensuring a great user experience requires a lot of prior research and planning; you need to understand the needs of users and the particular problem the app will solve.

In short: The UI design can make or break your app. 

Here are the most important benefits UI design brings to mobile app owners.

It increases customer satisfaction

A great design provides app users with easy navigation, engaging content, and overall excellent experience. Ultimately, it gives people a lot of satisfaction when interacting with your app. And satisfied clients are the ones who recommend products to other people. As a result, you will see an increase in customers and greater brand loyalty; satisfied users often become returning buyers. All in all, great UI design will increase the ROI of the app for your business.

It helps you learn more about your audience 

To create an excellent UI and UX design, it’s necessary to first understand the unique needs of your customers. Since the focus is on your target audience, UI design will force you to carry out thorough audience research. Moreover, UI design allows segmenting your audience, which is essential for understanding what each of these segments wants. Understanding the users of your app will make converting them into loyal buyers easier in the long run. And that will result in increasing the actual sales volume.

It helps in branding 

By investing in attractive UI design, you will increase customer satisfaction and make the users of your app happy. And happy customers like to interact with brands that make them happy. That’s why they will be more willing to communicate with you and tell you which features you could upgrade to improve your application. As a result, the credibility of your business will increase, and you’ll get to create meaningful relationships with your target audience. All in all, your brand name and the overall value of your business will grow.

It makes your business more efficient

Investing in outstanding UI design is an opportunity to prevent any problems that may arise in your application later on. A well-designed product won’t require frequent upgrades and therefore, will save you money and time in the long run. By researching your target audience thoroughly, you won’t be forced to introduce a lot of changes or upgrades that cost money.

Now you know why great UI design makes mobile apps successful.

 

Let’s get one thing clear:

Mobile app users like applications that are easy to use and engaging. 

The most successful applications on the market offer their users seamless navigation and attractive interface. Developing an application with an efficient UI design is the starting point of building a successful digital product. 

That’s because most people prefer to use apps that are visually appealing and user-friendly over ones that offer great functionalities hidden behind a less attractive appearance. 

A great user interface gives users a continuous flow of valuable information and streamlines their journey throughout the app. As a result, it boosts the app’s conversion rate. That’s why UI design is such a critical aspect of mobile app development.

 

Here’s how bad UI design can ruin your app

Some app owners don’t put enough attention to design and dedicate their focus and money on getting app features developed as quickly as possible. As a result, they release apps that are faulty in their user interfaces. Here are 3 serious consequences of this mistake:

Poor user experience

This consequence brings about a host of other implications. If users aren’t satisfied while using your app, they’re not going to recommend it to their friends, leave you positive reviews on the app store, or become loyal brand followers. Apps that offer difficult navigation and aren’t user-friendly suffer from high uninstall rates simply because app users can always look for alternative products that offer similar functionalities packed in a nicer and more approachable design.

 

Lower conversions

Mobile apps that have a badly designed user interface will make it more difficult for customers to reach the conversion point. For example, navigation that doesn’t allow customers to browse through the products or services easily will seriously harm your conversion rate. As a result, your app isn’t going to bring you the results you’re looking for. In the end, the ROI from an app with a poor UI design will be much lower.

 

Potential risks to your brand

If you decided to invest in a mobile app, you probably have other outlets where you’re already reaching your audiences. If you have built a community of loyal followers and now offer your followers a poorly designed app, your brand is going to suffer seriously.

 

Best practices for UI in mobile apps in 2020

 

Now that you know why UI design is so important, here are some best practices to help you set your app on the path to success. 

1. Know your target audience

Successful UI design requires ample knowledge about who your users are. To complete the general profile of your target audience and segment it appropriately, you need more than the demographic data that your analytics app can gather. 

You need to know what they want, what their pain points are, and what stands in their way to achieving their goals. Once you know that, you’ll be able to deliver an app that solves this problem in the best possible way, gaining a serious competitive advantage. 

But how do you get there? Try carrying out testing sessions where you watch people use your products. You can then speak to them face-to-face and ask the questions that dig deeper into their needs. Ask about their goals and how your app helps them overcome the challenges that stop them from achieving these objectives. 

Speaking with users and analyzing the data is the best method for uncovering the insights that will inform every decision you make about UI design – from the content, you will highlight how people will be using your interface.

 

2. Visualize how people use your interface

Before setting out to design your interface, it’s necessary to think about how users will actually be using it. Just consider apps like Tinder, where the entire user experience is defined by the ease-of-use of a simple swipe. 

People use apps in two ways: directly (by interacting with the interface elements of the product) and indirectly (by interacting with external UI elements). Examples of direct interactions include swiping a card, tapping a button, dragging and dropping an item with a fingertip. External interactions are, for example, using key commands, pointing and clicking with the mouse, or typing text into a form field. 

Once you know what types of interactions your customers will have with your app, you can design the UI to make such interactions as easy as possible. For example, if you’re designing an app for users with limited manual skills, tapping a button will be much easier than swiping the screen.

 

3. Show users what happens next

Many interactions with applications come with consequences. For instance, clicking a button might result in spending money. And where such consequences are present, there’s also potential anxiety. You can address this problem by letting users know what will happen after they click on a button before they do it. You can do this both with design and application copy. 

How to diminish the anxiety with design? You can highlight the button that corresponds to the desired action and use widely understood symbols (for example, a trashcan for deleting an item). You can also pick a color with the relevant meeting (like green for go and red for stop). 

To set expectations with copy, make sure to write a clear button copy and deliver a warning message whenever necessary. When it comes to actions leading to irreversible consequences, it’s a good idea to ask people whether they’re sure that they want to perform this action.

 

4. Anticipate mistakes made by users

We are all human, and we make mistakes. However, you can lessen the impact of human error while interacting with your app by preventing mistakes before they happen and providing ways to fix them after they happen. 

For example, certain buttons may remain active until the user fills out all the required fields in a form. Forms often detect email addresses that weren’t entered properly. 

Anticipating mistakes is smarter than trying to deal with them after the fact. That’s why you should design your user interface with clarity in mind – and by incorporating smart elements that prevent users from making mistakes like entering an invalid email address or telephone number.

 

5. Consider the visual hierarchy of your interface

There’s a simple principle of human-computer interaction called the Fitts’ Law: 

The larger or closer something is, the faster you can put your finger or cursor on it. 

Naturally, this law has all kinds of implications for interaction and user interface design techniques. 

 

Here are the three most important points: 

  • Make buttons and other click targets (like text links and icons) large enough to ensure that users can easily see them and click on them. Insufficient space might have users clicking the wrong link, again and again, so use blank space wisely. 
  • The buttons for the most common actions need to be more prominent and possibly larger. 
  • Locate navigation and common interactive visual elements like a search bar on the edges or corners of the screen. This might seem counterintuitive, but it works perfectly because it allows users not to be super accurate. They won’t have to worry about overshooting their target. 
  • When thinking about the placing and size of different user interface elements, consider your interaction model. For example, if your app requires horizontal rather than vertical scrolling, this fact will impact the placement of different interface elements.

 

6. Don’t reinvent the wheel

There is no need to get really creative when it comes to UI design. After all, a user interface is there to serve the users, not reflect your skills. Designers sometimes like reinventing things, but it’s not always the best idea because novel elements might increase the cognitive load of your app. 

You don’t want to get users thinking about the process that they’ve already learned once again. It makes sense to reinvent the wheel only if it actually improves the design and usability. Otherwise, it’s best to stick to popular symbols, navigation features, placement, and actions. This is where you can use design patterns.

UI design patterns serve as solutions to common problems we all encounter in user interface design. Patterns help designers to avoid reinventing the wheel and speed up the process of finding design solutions. Here are a few examples of UI design pattern libraries: Mobbin, UI Garage, UI Patterns, and Pttrns.

 

7. Take advantage of design systems, frameworks, and tools

UI designers benefit from many different tools, frameworks, and systems to accelerate their work and maintain consistency across the brand materials.

Design systems are sets of guidelines that explain how to use branding assets in marketing efforts. They consist of general brand guidelines, color use, typography, patterns, and other visual elements that contribute to branding. Creating a cohesive design system for your business will take your brand to the next level. Examples of design systems include Material, Fluent, Shopify Polaris, Mailchimp, and Atlassian.

Frameworks for UI design help designers to become more efficient by using reusable UI components. Every framework comes with its strengths and weaknesses, as well as specific areas of application. Choosing the right framework for your project is an important decision. Note that many frameworks are modular and allow developers to use only the components they need or even mix components from different frameworks. Here are a few examples of frontend frameworks: Bootstrap, Foundation by Zurb, Semantic UI, and Pure by Yahoo!.

What about UI design tools? Such tools assist the everyday tasks of UI designers by equipping them with various features. Some of the most popular UI design tools are Sketch, InVision Studio, Figma, Adobe XD, and Framer X.

 

8. Include animation

Animation is one of the hot issues in UI design that generates many debates. This is especially true for conceptual animation for user interfaces, which takes UI motion to the next level. 

Conceptual animation is a piece of motion design created to communicate an idea before it’s made into a real product. You can find it in transitions, interactions, and animation marking system feedback – for example, scrolling a list of items, a transition from a list to the item, and opening a side menu. 

Animations of this type go beyond the limits and rules of UI design. Some of them might seem impossible to realize. But they offer a great way for applications to stand out on the busy market. That’s why you should definitely consider adding animation to your app.

 

How to test a UI design?

The best interface design is created in close alignment with user feedback. But how do you go about testing your design? Every usability session of the mobile application needs to include five components we list below. Make sure to plan them carefully and establish them before any testing takes place. 

 

Here are the five essential components of testing:

  • Objectives (the questions that the test seeks to answer), 
  • Tasks to be performed (realistic tasks that represent typical interactions between users and the app), 
  • Test documents (such as the orientation script or the pre-and post-test questionnaires), 
  • Test participants (who represent the users of the app),
  • A test method that will be used (this may be observing test participants performing tasks either remotely or in laboratory conditions).

Conclusion

UI design is one of the key factors that determine the success of mobile apps in today’s overcrowded market. It doesn’t matter in which sector you operate; you can be sure that your target audience can choose from many alternative solutions. That’s why UI design can become a great competitive advantage that differentiates your product from others.

Do you need help in crafting the UI design of your app? Reach out to our team of designers. We helped many companies create appealing apps that help them reach key business objectives.

Project Manager & Business Analyst at Concise Software Geek girl & coffee lover, Google Developers Launchpad Mentor , passionate about growth hacking, community building and Star Wars. Also Lead Organizer at Women Techmakers and GDG Rzeszów

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