Mobile app design is an element of app development that is likely to be considered at the very earliest stages. It is also an element that can either make or break your app. The idea might be there, but, if the design is not equally as good as the idea you may as well pack it all in now.
So yes, before you even ask, app interface design is VERY important.
Being in charge of the look and feel of a product is exciting - the possibilities are endless and there is so much room for creativity. However, with that also comes a lot of room for error. That’s why we’ve reached out to those who know best, the people who have ‘been there, done that’, to give you the most relevant advice possible when it comes to mobile app design…
5 Tips for App Interface Design
1. Keep design simple
Thanos Patsis, Head of Mobile at Betway Group suggests, quite simply, to keep it simple. When a user downloads your app for the first time the last thing you want to do is scare them off with an interface that is cluttered and difficult to navigate around. The purpose of the app should be clear, and it should be obvious to the user how to carry out the desired action they downloaded the app for in the first place.
The less hoops for your user to jump through to find what they are looking for, the more likely they are to stick around and keep using your app. Generally, if your app requires a walkthrough guide, then it’s probably too complicated.
2. Make testing part of the decision
The best way to know if your design is effective is to test it. Global Digital Marketing Manager at Zinio, Mirela Cialai, states that running usability tests is a good way to make sure your app has a user-friendly interface and is easy to understand from the moment a new user opens it.
Infact, Cédric Oeblinger, CEO of Owlie, suggests not to waste time designing a full product, but to take a lean startup approach and design an “MVP version of your app” to test your business hypothesis first. This will allow you to detect any major design flaws or glitches at an early stage before you have put blood, sweat and tears into the full development of the app.
A poor app interface design might even lead to some customers giving you a negative user rating on the app store and Mirela emphasised this point as she noted that “bad ratings are very damaging to an apps reputation’. Testing needs to be carried out at various stages throughout design to prevent this occurring.
3. Base your design on your user
As a marketer, your job is to know your potential user inside and out. You need to understand their needs, their problems and their buying behaviour in order to create the best user experience.
Mirela Cialai helps make this point as she states:
“First and foremost you have to know your users! Make sure the app is designed for the right user, creating personas of the people most likely to use the app, tailoring its functionalities to fit their needs.”
Andi Jarvis, Marketing Strategist from The Tomorrow Lab sums up his advice for anyone in the design phase into three words: “user, user, user’. He comments that there are thousands of great ideas and great apps out there, but they are doomed before they even launch because devs have lost sight of the user. Andi suggests to constantly remind yourself of who it’s for and what problem it solves and to look at every problem you come against through those two lenses.
4. Think about marketing at design stage
“Don't think of marketing or user acquisition as an afterthought. You can have the most amazing product but if it's not marketable or setup for growth, it will be destined to fail.”
I don’t doubt that you are well aware that marketing your app is a crucial element to its success, but what you may not have considered is that this needs to be thought about at the early stages. Design elements such as your logo, app name, app store screenshots and branding are core factors to your marketing. If these are carelessly thought out or designed poorly then your marketing efforts aren’t likely to amount to anything.
5. Do your research
The first step to being a good app designer, is to be an app user. Do your own research and learn what you like and don’t like in terms of fonts, layouts, imagery, colours… the works! Then see what everyone else out there is doing as Marta Miklinska, Mobile Marketing Manager at IAC suggests:
“Do study current design trends, talk to different designers, ideally with different backgrounds. The more creative minds put together, the better the final result. “
Iain Russell, App Marketing Manager for Momentum’s Moneyhub, also commented that research is one of the most important elements of the mobile app design stage:
“You should have a target user-base in mind and should be looking for as much ongoing feedback as possible from them during the design phase. The worst thing you can do is launch your new app and find out that people don't understand how to use it's core features or find things confusing.”
Learn more about what each of our Industry Gurus had to say about app interface design plus their key advice into many other areas in “The Complete Guide to App Marketing from Industry Gurus”.
Thank you to all our App Marketing Guru’s for sharing their valuable knowledge!