The Top 5 Do’s and Don’ts of Mobile App Design

Ten years ago, mobile apps were basically unheard of - simply accessing the Internet was a luxury enjoyed by few. Today, mobile users rely heavily on apps to navigate their favorite websites, make purchases, and of course, play games. In 2014, there were 139 million app downloads around the world, and this number is expected to double by the year 2017 according to Statista.

While the market for apps is clearly there, it’s by no means a sit-back-and-make-millions game. It’s a heavily competitive market, and consumers are quick to discard apps that don’t work well on their phones. What will your app need to have in order to provide a great user experience? Here are 5 do’s and don’ts of mobile app design.

Do: Have a Layout That Fits Your Screen

In this game, it doesn’t pay to be too unique. Users are familiar with scrolling down vertically, not horizontally. If the user has to constantly scroll right just to read a product description, your app is not going to perform well. Interactions with your app should feel natural and intuitive -- not like a chore.

Don’t: Make a Mobile App That is a Mirror of Your Website

How users interact with a phone app and with a website while using a computer are similar, but there are some important differences. Mobile app users are more likely to be on the move, and content made for mobile devices should be easy to understand in a glance. The most prominent information should be pertinent to your industry; restaurants, for example, want to make location and hours easiest to find before listing menus, specials, etc. According to BrightLocal , 38% of mobile users are put off if a company’s address isn’t easily visible.

Do: Extensive Testing

There’s nothing worse than designing a clean, functional, engaging app, only to realize that you didn’t accurately predict how the user’s iOS keyboard would affect their experience with the app. To begin testing you can use software simulators like Responsinator , but you’re going to want to test on real phones as well. Similarly, make sure you understand and don’t underestimate the “hit area” of a user’s finger, which is about 1.7 cm wide on average. Buttons that are too small will frustrate.

Don’t: Use Low Resolution Images

You may love how that image looks on your general website, but one of the wonders/challenges of a smartphone screen is that it allows for very high resolution images. As Apple’s own developer webpage points out, poor resolution means that images will “will appear blurry on the Retina display,” which will make your app look unprofessional and dated.

Do: Design for Your Audience

Even if you have one of the most popular stores in America, your app isn’t going to necessarily sell itself. No matter what problem you’re trying to solve for the consumer, make sure that your mobile app design keeps the mobile user experience of the intended audience at the forefront.

One element of design that is universally appealing is speed. If certain aspects of your app take time to load, don’t leave your user hanging - this is a place to give feedback to the user so that they still feel as if they are part of an interaction. A bouncing icon, a countdown clock, a change in the screen’s color - something should be used to indicate that the app is actively responding to their desire (even if it takes a second or two).

Is your mobile app ready for its audience? Keep these 5 do and don’t tips in mind, and your users should be clicking “download app” in no time.