Tips for Effective and Engaging Mobile App Design
August 5, 2016
Mobile compatibility is absolutely essential in today’s internet world. If it doesn’t work on mobile – it doesn’t work.
Knowing that a compelling mobile design is a critical part of the process is one thing – figuring out how to make that happen is entirely different. Some things are true for all kinds of apps in all kinds of venues, pieces of the puzzle that every designer should take note of in order to create the kind of experience that is effective and engaging.
Designs must work on all devices, no matter what operating system they run on or what size screen is being used. There is just no room for error, because when a site doesn’t work on a given device, there’s a whole share of the market that is immediately lost.
Testing is a big part of ensuring device compatibility. That means double checking all design elements through compatibility software. For a richer experience, designers should actually test the user experience through various kinds of devices. Taking the time to test and explore how the experience looks and feels offers designers a better window into which changes need to be made to improve. That means testing with real users as much as possible.
Security and accessibility matter
Start working on security early in the process of development in order to integrate it seamlessly into the user experience. Often, security issues are saved until the end of the design and development process, which can cause not only delays in rollout, but which can also negatively impact user experience.
Keep in mind that no one wants to get onto a mobile app only to discover some issue. People are looking for trust, that almost magical quality of effortlessness and integrity that we’ve come to expect from technology. Take into account 508 compliance and accessibility from the outset in order to ensure that designs are engaging and available for all users.
Basic design isn’t boring – it’s clear and easy to navigate. Creating a compelling design that’s also minimalistic and original is most definitely a challenge to the creativity of designers. Designers who take apps to the next level are those designers who push the boundaries of creativity without overburdening users with complex design.
If you take a look at the apps that have revolutionized the way that users interact with technology, you’ll notice they are all simplistic and innovative. The learning curve that users need to master in order to engage an app must be small and manageable. If a design is so complex that the user gets frustrated, game over.
Theme is important in app design. Think about the whole experience and how it translates to human interaction, rather than focusing on individual parts and pieces. That means staying with that message across social media platforms, web support, email support and app interactions.
This is a place where details are important, but it’s equally important to not get lost in them. A coherent message derives from clear vision early on, creating an image of what the final takeaway of the experience should be for the user. Well before any coding is done or any images are created, app creators should sit down and lay out a mission and goals for the final product. Keep in mind that at the end of the day, user experience is driven by intangibles like emotion and feel. The tiny and precise particulars only matter insomuch as they support the overall experience of the user.
A key in creating that final user takeaway experience is a color palette that supports the message and purpose of the app. Bright colors or cool, stark contrast or muted effects, it all adds up to a powerful statement for users. Simple tweaks in color can make a huge difference, and this is a place that it’s worthwhile to experiment. Don’t stay stuck in one color palette – take the time to explore a few variations to see how they affect the way that the app feels and the ease with which the app can be used.
Don’t be afraid to use bold and unusual color choices, but always thoroughly test color and animation during the process. There’s a reason that focus groups are so common in the development of technology – they work! Be open to changes in order to get the most out of app design and color.
Apps are not only a visual medium – they offer a tactile experience that is equally important to the way that users explore them. Touchscreens have changed the way that people interact with technology, the way that they take pleasure in it or get annoyed with it. Don’t neglect the kinetic way that users will navigate a given app, and realize that how an app feels under those swiping fingers is as important as how it appeals to their eyes and ears.
Keeping the tactile experience easy, intuitive and functional is a powerful way to entice users to stay engaged with an app. It’s also another area that cross device compatibility is important to factor in, as devices of different sizes will have dramatically different tactile experiences.
No one wants to try to remember a thousand passwords. In that moment of hesitation that comes with having to try to figure out login information, it’s easy for people to swipe in a competitor’s direction. Building social media login functionality into an app is a basic and beautiful way to offer a more cohesive and simple user experience. There’s no worry about forgotten passwords or lost logins, and there is a comfort to the centrality of the social media login process.
Creating an effective and engaging mobile app design is at heart all about drawing it all back and offering users the clear and easy experience that they crave. Mobile technology is so often overstimulating and sometimes frustrating – every step that designers can take to streamline and simplify is a step in the right direction.