How to Design Your App's User Experience

Contributed content / By Tayaba Aslam / 12 November 2019

With limited screen sizes, sensitive touch screens, and critical thumb-finger zones, mobile phones are difficult to design for. Explore this step-by-step guide for effective design strategies that help create an interactive and intuitive user-interface.

Mobile app statistics are promising. By 2020, the number of mobile app downloads is expected to rise from the 2018 total of 205.4 billion to cross 258 billion, according to Statista.

Nathanael Smith, co-founder of Plato Design, has said that the relationships between the apps and users will become more important as consumers and businesses evolve.

As the Digital Content Producer at Cubix, I have witnessed a tremendous shift of interest from web apps to mobile apps in the last few years. Businesses realize the significance of mobile platforms and are eager to exploit it and enhance the UX.

Mobile phones are an important platform but there are billions of mobile apps in the app stores. It’s a small device. The screen has limited space. And fitting a world of information is a challenge.

25% of the downloaded apps are used only once because the design and user interface fail to amaze the users. Your app has to be a real game changer for users to download it.

Here are some simple tricks to design aesthetically pleasing apps that get the job done.

How to Make a User-Friendly Mobile App

  1. Keep thumb-friendly zones in mind
  2. Create hierarchy with colors
  3. Dedicate an individual screen for every primary task
  4. Acknowledge users’ actions & provide clarity
  5. Follow app standards & avoid jargon

1. Keep Thumb-Friendly Zones in Mind

Below are the three zones: natural, stretching, and hard.

thumb friendly mobile zones

Smashing Magazine

Though you can see this change based on which hand is being used, the thumb zone plays a key role in designing for mobile apps. Mobile phones users use their thumbs to scroll through their phones.

The right thumb zone is the most important area on the phone. Mobile app designers must focus on placing call-to-action buttons and important clicks within this zone.

Also, do not clutter the thumb zone and place the buttons and clickable elements at a fair distance.

You don’t want users tapping on ‘Complete Order’ and accidentally selecting "Remove Product."

Designers can design sticky footnotes and drop-down menus to save users the trouble, or set up screens like below. 

hard okay easy mobile thumb app

LukeW

In order to keep users within their comfort zones and on your app, you have to keep their thumbs (and this above example) in mind.

2. Create Hierarchy With Colors

I cannot emphasize on the significance of choosing the right color for the mobile app. Your app shouldn’t look like a color palette. Instead, it should resonate with your brand personality.

Color variation helps in creating visual hierarchy, quickly drawing attention towards essential elements and desirable call-to-action buttons, like the “decline” and “answer” buttons below.

incoming call color hierarchy

Teespring

Let’s talk more about the very basic color scheme above. The stakeholders want you to receive the color, therefore, gave it a bright green color that represents positivity, meaning “go”. On the contrary, red denotes danger and error, meaning “stop”.

3. Dedicate an Individual Screen for Every Primary Task

Do not make app users perform multiple actions on one screen. Instead, allocate individual screens for primary actions. Mobile phones have small screens, so there is only as much as you can fit.

Some forms will frustrate uses because they have to many sections to be filled with small spaces between the sections. Organizing the platform like this will lead users to select the wrong boxes or buttons at least a few times, contributing to a stressful experience.

Don’t get your users anxious. Avoid the “wow, that’s a hassle” reaction. Let’s say you are designing a food delivery app. Start by asking the location to show eateries nearby with a simple “find restaurants” button like below.

find restaurants button

foodpanda

Asking for a location is all the information you need to get started, like above.
In the next step, ask users to choose a restaurant on a simple screen, displaying the restaurant images clearly. Lastly, ask users to add products and complete the order, like below:

add products and complete order

foodpanda

Once they click the checkout button in the image above, they’ll have finished the process. And that’s it – a simple and comfortable shopping experience in minimal steps.

4. Acknowledge Users’ Actions and Provide Clarity

Recognize everything that is happening on your mobile app. Let’s say, the user tapped an image and it needs a few seconds to load. Show a loading sign and give it an interactive touch like a yawning panda or animated Star Wars character like below.

acknowledgeusersprovideclarity

1stWebDesigner

By adding this running, moving character, users will know your app hasn’t stopped working. Also, by adding the percentage of how far along the loading is, users know what to expect. Don’t make your users confused about whether or not the content is coming.

Also, give some visual effects to the call-to-action buttons. Maybe a little pop when users tap the button or a slight change in the color. Do something to inform the user of successful action.

It is crucial to engage with the user while other items are at work on the backend.

5. Follow App Standards and Avoid Jargon

Users interact with various mobile apps over the course of time. You must introduce them to similar screens on your app, so they know exactly where to find the required information.

You should also avoid using jargons and fancy words like in the example below. Never try to find synonyms for common words that will only end up confusing your user.

follow app standards and avoid jargon

Adobe Blog

Rather than saying “roost”, “migrate”, “and fly”, use the words that users actually recognize the meaning of, like “buy”, “rent”, and “sell”. Mobile phone users are familiar and comfortable with certain screens and words. Keep it that way!

Master the Art of Designing a Mobile App

The mobile app market is competitive and crowded. Your app must be excellent to grab users’ attention. Avoid some of these common errors we’ve just gone through and implement these tips next time you design your mobile app.

Prioritize your user’s comfort, don’t repeat common blunders, and stand out from the crowd with your app’s interface!

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