6 Tips for Designing a Great App

Customers really have two requirements for the apps they use on their phones – it has to be easy to use and easy on the eyes. If you don’t have both of these qualities, then you aren’t likely to retain many regular app end users.

June 16, 2021
6 Tips for Designing a Great App

Customers really have two requirements for the apps they use on their phones – it has to be easy to use and easy on the eyes. If you don’t have both of these qualities, then you aren’t likely to retain many regular app end users. 

When you design your app, you need to keep these requirements in mind. To ensure your app gets the attention you need to get people to download it and continue to use it, follow these six tips. 

Cover All the Basics before Adding Any Extras

It is easy to focus on the things that you want your app to have and completely miss the things that you need to have. When you begin the design process, you should make sure to cover all the basics first. Here are the aspects and functions you need to ensure your app has:

  • Navigation – people want an app that is easy to navigate and that the icons placed on the pages are easily identifiable. You want to make it easy for people to identify where to go without any kind of tutorial. 
  • Planning – You also want to make sure that the app is optimized for a range of different screen sizes (desktop, laptop, tablet, and smartphone). 
  • Feedback – When users finish actions, it is good to have a notification that lets them know when they have been successful. 
  • Simplicity – Your app shouldn’t have a lot of animations or other elements that take up space without adding much value.

Keep these functions and aspects in mind as you begin working on the other components of your app. 

Make Sure Your App Is Responsive

People have become accustomed to quick responses when they tap on any app. If users have to wait more than a couple of seconds, they tend to quit using the app because they simply don’t want to wait for things to load or to complete a few tasks. They want to be able to quickly boot up the app, finish whatever they need to do while they are thinking about it, then move on with other tasks. 

This means that apps have to be incredibly responsive. This is why apps tend to be very simple. You want to give users' access to the tasks they want to do, but not a lot of extra stuff that few to none of them will ever use. 

You need to ensure that you optimize your app for both Androids and iPhones – don’t favor one or the other. The market is about 50/50 between these two platforms. They do have different methods of making apps more responsive, so make sure to have experts who know how best to optimize both platforms on your design team. 

Make Dedicated Tasks for Each Screen

When designing an app for mobile devices, you have to keep it simple – each string needs to be dedicated to a single task. Consider the fact that when your end users need to enter more detailed information, nearly half of that small screen is consumed by the keyboard. The best way to keep the screen clear from a lot of issues is to focus on one task for each screen. Once that task is complete, the user should get a new screen. This lets them know that they have been successful, essentially walking them through the full process. 

If users can do multiple things on a screen, they are more likely to hit the wrong button or make mistakes (trying to go back on a mobile device is problematic at best, and impossible most of the time). This will quickly make users decide the app simply isn’t worth the hassle. 

Ensure Everything Can Be Done with a Thumb

Studies have shown that people tend to use just a thumb when using mobile apps. This is one reason why you should make certain that you create a completely different version of the app for computers as well as one for smaller mobile devices – it isn’t just the screen size that is different. When interacting with an app on a computer, people use all of their fingers and thumbs. Interacting with a keyboard allows for a lot more complex actions, and it also has the back button. On a small mobile device, a thumb is about all you can manage to use. Even if you use a tablet, people tend to use just one finger because the screen is small. 

The thumb is a bit thicker than fingers, so keep the icons further apart. People won’t want to accidentally tap the wrong icon. 

Connectivity is Essential

One of the ways to make apps more responsive without removing a lot of functionality is to make your app connect with other apps, particularly social media. People love convenience, and they also love to be able to share their experiences. Allowing end users to connect to Facebook, Twitter, and other apps can help to increase your app’s visibility as well. 

Consider what it is people will want to share from your app. Nearly every app has some potential for users to post, even if it is just to say that they completed a chore for the day.

Even if you can’t think of a social media use, there are a lot of other apps which your app can connect. For example, if your app is related to health or finances, there are apps on both platforms that have health and financial apps that are default apps on users' smartphones. Consider all of the ways in which people may want to connect to apps on their phones. 

Use Signifiers to Help Users Figure out What 

When you are ready to really get into the design, keep the following suggestions in mind to ensure that you consider these important factors in the context of the other tips on this list. 

  1. Visual signifiers should help users know what to click on based on what they expect from a screen. For example, you can have one button be highlighted to make it obvious where customers start or where they need to add information. 
  2. Keep text concise so that users can quickly identify what is needed. 
  3. Establish patterns between screens so users know where to click fairly quickly. 
  4. Use established icons so that users know where to go without having to think, like an envelope for an email or gear for the app’s settings. 
  5. Use established negative signifiers so users know when they can’t access something. Graying out icons or areas is a universal sign that they are not currently accessible. 

How well your app will perform upon release is determined during the development stage. To be successful and to encourage users to continue to use the app, you have to design it in a way that is easy to use, aesthetically pleasing, and quick to use. This is something that you will need to remember and focus on during the testing phases.