The process of creating a great design is varied with many options and choices. App design is much like other types of software, and goes through a number of development stages to get from the initial concept to the final released version. It may be difficult to exactly specify in the beginning what will make an app popular and successful, but when it’s completed a great design is always built around functionality, user experience and addressing a need..
We’ve compiled this list as a suggestion for things to consider when first starting out with developing your app. Not all will apply to every type of app, nor should these be used exclusively to define your app. We hope that from our discussions with developers regarding what went right, and wrong, in their designs that you can benefit from their experiences. And if you have more suggestions, please feel free to include in the comments and we’ll update this list later one.
Also, if you are interested in a much deeper introduction to developing apps, we’d like to recommend the following books from Amazon:
Apps: Beginner’s Guide For App Programming, App Development, App Design
The Ultimate Beginners Guide for App Programming and Development
Designing Mobile Apps
Fake It Make It: How to Make an App Prototype in 3 Hours
Let’s get started …
1) Design itself is not the purpose. The purpose is to provide the user with the best way of solving a peculiar task, with minimum time and attention required. Usage and functionality should be as obvious as possible, requiring a zero or small learning curve.
2) Minimalist design is widely appreciated: it doesn’t distract, it’s easier to understand, it allows users to concentrate on the functional, practical use of the app.
3) When an average user gets acquainted with an app, the first thing checked is how consistently it works, how easy the navigation is.
4) Each icon/button has a direct functional meaning. But it’s always good when it’s beautifully, attractively designed.
5) If you have, for example, one icon/button on a screen, users will definitely pay attention to its design. If there’s an overuse, the design of each icon is likely to be lost in the whole colorful picture.
6) While smartphone screens are small, crowding buttons for the sake of reducing the number of screens may make the app unusable.
7) There is always a main button with main a feature, used in the first place, and it is the one most frequently tapped. This button should be placed at the bottom of the screen, where a thumb can easily reach it.
8) The thumb is used the most for one-handed tapping. Design must mean convenience for that. That’s essential for people who use their smartphone with just one hand, while the other holds a cup of coffee, a briefcase, a remote control, whatever.
9) For many people, they may not take the time to appreciate pictures/artwork on the background or a special shape of buttons. However, this attention to detail, along with a consistent color palette, can serve just as a valued addition for first impressions.
10) Users tend to spend a small amount of time within the application. Details are often skipped. The same can happen to the features that aren’t obviously shown. That’s because we use apps on the go, and there are so many things around, that also require our attention, so we take a brief look at the screen, then concentrate on something else, and so on.
11) Of course, some apps are designed to hold attention for more than several minutes at a time. Tablet games and book readers are the most obvious examples. But still, they have to be catchy and intuitive as well, for the sake of initial interest.
12) Smartphone games are usually a pastime that rarely lasts longer than several minutes. Some games, entertainment and videos are meant to be “consumed” in as little as 15 seconds. Structure your interface and user experiences to match the time frame usage.
13) App loyalty is a very unstable thing. Remember that gaining users, which can be hard, is nevertheless much easier than retaining. A user may download 15 apps during a month, but you can’t say whether they will be used more than once.
14) Multitouch gestures reduce convenience, so they shouldn’t be used for basic actions. For example, instead of pinching with two fingers for zooming, users would prefer to tap twice with just one. Users always prefer standard, natural gestures, performed with one finger.
15) Design will also help you with the ideas for visual hints (such as animations) for users, to show that some control bar requires sliding or scrolling.
16) Reduce scrolling where possible. Users may simply not pay attention to important features and content.
17) The app should be usable at an arm-length distance between the eyes and the screen.
18) Content buttons are usually placed at the top of the screen.
19) Apps which demand intensive tapping (for example, productivity apps, such as planners), usually have control bars at the bottom of the screen.
20) Full-width controls (if possible) are good for both right-handed and left-handed people.
21) Finger is not a stylus. Fingers are way blunter and hits aren’t that precise. Tiny buttons, which are hard to hit, may be the the biggest reason to reject the whole app. Plan the ergonomics carefully. If your design can’t do without a small button, you may make the invisible hit area bigger than the button’s visual limits.
22) Lack of space between buttons is another problem. Don’t leave a possibility of hitting the wrong button. It messes things up even more, like accidentally tapping ‘delete’ instead of ‘save’. Users won’t like that.
23) Text must be concise and precise.
24) If your app has a standard or “default” settings mode, carefully consider what is included there and how easily the settings can be customized for the individual user.
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