5 Ways to Design Mobile Apps with the User in Mind
Mobile applications (apps) have become such a routine part of our everyday lives, that it’s hard to believe they’ve only been around for just over a decade. In terms of the interesting history of mobile apps, the App Store was launched in 2008. That was just one year after Apple released the iPhone in June 2007.
There are 6.8 billion global mobile users worldwide, according to Statista. Emarketer recently reported on time spent with mobile. Findings included that 90 percent of smartphone time is in apps. According to Business of Apps, App Annie sets the total number of app downloads in 2018 at 194 billion; up from 178 billion in 2017.
Like other marketing vehicles, the dawn of mobile devices and apps offers businesses another opportunity to communicate, engage and build brand loyalty with their customers and prospects. However, in today’s busy business environments, simply having a mobile app doesn’t make the cut. It’s imperative to design mobile apps with the user in mind.
Computer and App User 101 Rule of Usage: It Better Be Easy to Use.
If a mobile app is complicated or not intuitive, it will not be used. Even worse, it will be deleted. The easier and more intuitive a mobile app is to use, the more it will be utilized by an individual. Once a user is comfortable with an app, then he/she will go on to utilize more complicated processes and functionality.
Several benefits, when you design mobile apps with the user in mind, include:
- Productivity – For starters, this is a direct benefit from an easy-to-use app.
- Efficiency – Your employees and customers are on their smartphones “all the time” now. An easy-to-use app will make communications, orders, etc. with customers and employees simpler and quicker.
- Loyalty – If your mobile app is easy and functions well, customers will stay with your brand, products, services or whatever your app is providing.
- Improved Customer Experience – This goes hand-in-hand with loyalty.
Here are 5 ways to design mobile apps, with the user in mind:
1. Conduct User Experience (UX) research
The first step in mobile app development is to conduct UX research. During this process, you’ll learn motivations, needs and behaviors of your customers and prospects. Similar to marketing planning, it’s critical to build the groundwork by identifying your goals, objectives, target audience and ways to measure ROI. Drill down into the features that will offer your target audience the best user experience. Be sure to build in time to create a prototype to test. This will enable you to further understand which features are working and which ones need to be changed, before the official launch.
2. Create app user personas
The UX research phase will give you important data to gain insight into app user personas. When you create app user personas, pay attention to what your users are searching for in a mobile app experience. What are their pain points? Is there a problem they’re trying to solve? Through creating user app personas and intuitive mobile app design, you’ll show users that your product or service is the answer.
After your mobile app is live, take the time to further understand and manage your personas from your own users’ data. Some app analytics tools include Kumulos, App Annie and Apptica. They provide valuable information on how well a mobile app works, along with what to do to improve it, attract new users and keep them loyal to the app.
3. Utilize User Experience (UX) design and User Interface (UI) design
UX experience design is the process of creating products that provide meaningful and relevant experiences to users. This involves the entire design process and integrating the product, including aspects of branding, design, usability and function.
Think about the following “why, what and how” of product use in the Interaction Design Foundation graphic.
The fact that mobile app user experience design is so user-centric, you need to focus on these issues to ensure that you’re creating a user-friendly app. Users want to open your mobile app and feel like they intuitively know how to find what they need. If they don’t see something they’re looking for, they’ll assume there’s a pop-out navigation bar or search function. This means you need to provide both of those functions in a way that’s easy for users to find, regardless of how tech-savvy they may or may not be. The user experience design also needs to be clutter free, seamless across all devices and contain content that’s easy to read.
UI design, a subset of UX design, also is significant when designing mobile apps with the user in mind. Some UI design tips include creating a layout that fits the screen of an iOS device, utilizing elements that are designed for touch gestures, and having contrast between the font color and the background.
It’s important to note that mobile app usability design is an ongoing process. With each update and improvement, the way in which your customers are using your app should be at the center of what you’re doing. If your update makes key features more difficult to access or increases the number of taps to someone’s destination, you’re heading in the wrong direction.
4. Use interaction design trends
In addition to UX and UI designs, use the latest mobile interaction design trends to create a welcoming design that’s helpful to the user. During that process, consider the way that the device is used and the specifics of the device itself.
Here are some general principles that can help:
- Provide keyboard and touchscreen modes.
- Use options like sliding, swiping, tapping and a fingerprint.
- Don’t hide the password, when signing in.
- Land the user directly to the main page, instead of using fancy splash screens.
- Offer multiple screen orientations. Landscape mode is the primary mode.
- Keep forms short and concise.
- Have intuitive and visible navigation.
5. Generate effective call to action (CTA) buttons
The CTA button is one of the most vital components to any mobile app design because its purpose is to encourage people to take an action by “pushing the button” to purchase, subscribe, contact and more. Without it, you can’t have successful lead generation. Effective CTA buttons will get attention from your customers and prospects and lead them to the next stage, often to complete a short form.
Incorporate the following clever design tips on CTA buttons:
- Size – Large buttons have a high likelihood to be noticed and clicked. It should be big enough to be quickly found, but not too big that the visual composition and hierarchy of the layout would be compromised.
- Color and shape – Consider the meanings behind colors and shapes. Also, buttons and background colors should be contrasting enough, so that call to actions will stand out from the other components.
- Placement – Needs to be where users’ eyes can catch them. Think about the different scanning patterns.
Weblications, a CMA company, created a mobile sales app for its customer Barnet Products. Barnet is a global company that specializes in active ingredients for the use in personal care products and unique system formers inspired by East Asian trends. The objective of this app is to place a comprehensive tool, that’s intuitive and easy to use in the salesperson’s hands. It also provides on-the-spot answers and illustrations to all prospect application questions and what-ifs. This easy-to-use app provides a plethora of information for the salesperson and can be accessed at any client location world-wide. The user can simply email product spec sheets, formulas and other information, on the spot, to the customer or prospect.
Barnet Products Mobile Sales App
Simply put, designing mobile apps with the user in mind is of paramount importance because it fulfills the user’s primary needs. It aims to provide simple and positive experiences, which keep users loyal to your brand, product or service. Additionally, a meaningful user experience allows you to define future customer journeys, within your app, that are most conducive to business success.
Bob Weber is the President of Weblications, a CMA company. CMA is a full-service communications, marketing and association management firm, which has provided its clients with award-winning and proven results for more than 30 years.