In this article we strive to describe how to design a mobile app.

Good design is important for every application, though we all probably saw some examples of overall bad applications with beautiful looks. In the context of the mobile development, the quality design plays one of key roles, as smaller screens and unstable operating environment sometimes complicate the use of the application. The design is aimed to solve such challenges.

Application design or, more precisely, its visual part, is the first thing to which the user’s eyes cling to. Qualitatively engineered design is what the user’s impression from the interaction with the application depends on. If these experiences are negative, the app will never be popular.

Let us consider five key tips for mobile app design to help create great design for a mobile application from scratch.

Read also: how much does it cost to design an app 

Focus on the goal 1

1. Focus on the goal

The application should always be developed with a focus on the goals which the customer wishes to achieve – the designer’s job is to help them do it easily and intuitively. Typically, applications are developed on the basis of a single technical concept, where the user interface is built around its needs.

When designing mobile application, the form should always follow the functionality. There are always an infinite number of task embodiment variants in terms of appearance and atmosphere, but first of all it is necessary to be clear about the purpose of the application, even before starting to determine its appearance and the target audience. Naturally, the different audiences prefer different styles, for example, business application should not be drawn in a cartoon-like manner.

It is necessary to try to limit initially the basic functions of the application and, if at all possible, not deviate from the original ideas. Like this it’s possible to improve and develop the concept of application, as well as its appearance and interface without creating confusion by adding the new variables.

As the application evolves over time, it is worth adding features without complexity increase – the so called functional onset. Befitting start would be a clear definition of the frame structure, informational architecture and interaction schemes. To maintain consistency, from this base one can add additional features without changing the application concept.

Improve the usability

2. Improve the usability

Usually the controls in the application are located at the edges of the screen, with the main attention at the center. Interface elements should be arranged compactly, as basically the space is limited – but the user must distinguish between them at arm’s length, and when they click one element, the others must not be activated.

Despite the fact that modern mobile app design scrapped the so-called “rule of three clicks” as obsolete, it is, nevertheless, operable and applicable. If the application provides a fairly wide range of settings, you need to make sure that the user can find the most important of them in one or two clicks. Even the most advanced of them should be reachable through a maximum of three clicks.

The most qualitatively performed applications can be called interfaceless – there’s just a “live content”. It is important to regularly review the concept, never rest on laurels, and test it at every stage of the process. If one does not constantly strive for excellence, the solution will be very limited.

Creating a user-friendly mobile application design requires a thorough reflection on how to make the product maximally clear and easy to use for the consumer. “Is it possible to customize this template to anyone who may need a larger and more legible font?” Creating a list of features that enhance the usability of the application may also be a good idea when designing a mobile app.

Employ the affordances

3. Employ the affordances

Affordance is a term coined by the user experience design researcher Donald Norman in his book “The Design of Everyday Things” (originally – “The Psychology of Everyday Things”, 1988). He drew on the fact that the possibilities of interaction with the user should be laid inside the design of an object, and messages about such opportunities by means of design should be called affordances. In the real world such messages are size, shape and behavior of the subject. In the digital plane we are left only with the appearance and behavior of the object.

Design agreements and metaphors are types of affordance, which either require some effort to recognize or work only when the user is already familiar with their meaning. For instance, let’s turn our attention to the links. Blue underlined text indicates that a click on this text will redirect the user to some address, local or online. Such symbols must be used in the way that won’t make the user contemplate about the meaning of a particular user interface element. Rely on the practicality and rationality.

Use the familiar features

4. Use the familiar features

The best application interfaces usually are simple and intuitive. They seem very understandable to users, and they can feel right at home. The main developers’ task is to create the stunning visual effects so that users be fascinated by the application, and thus would be able to use it without reading any manuals.

Typically, users expect that the program will look and function in a certain way. For example, never use the “pinch” gesture for any functions besides zoom, minimization or image expansion, it will only confuse users. But the choice of color schemes stays available – it would be extremely boring if all the applications would copy the standard palette slavishly.

In 2012 Google conducted the studies, the results of which show that simple sites are perceived better by users. Less cognitive effort is required to perceive their interfaces. If you design a mobile app, exactly the same applies.

Take care of interface reactivity and responsiveness 1

5. Take care of interface reactivity and responsiveness

If the user performs an action, the application should always validate the interaction. If this is not ensured, users might think that the application hung up or that they missed the desired active element. The response can be tactile (e.g., Android deaf vibration) or visual (e.g., the pressed button color change). If the user enters a query that is processed for a long time, you should display the “roller” or progress bar, to let the user know that his request has been received and is currently being processed.

Following these principles, one can create a great mobile app design.

Read also: 5 Fundamental UX Design Principles

How much can the mobile application design cost?

How much does it cost to design a mobile app? Most of the design price consist of hourly development rate. According to our appraisals, the current medians on hourly rates for mobile app design cost across the Earth look like this:

• US and Canada – $150 -$200;
• UK – $65-$130;
• Western Europe – $40-$60;
• Eastern Europe – $25-$45 (we reside in Ukraine and our medium hourly rate is $25);
• India – $10-$20.

Lesser rates don’t always mean the acceptable quality, but as for the Eastern Europe, it is not unusual to get great service with minimum expenses.

If you contract us, to build a design for your app would cost you up to $2000 for a simple app with a minimalistic design, up to $4000 for a more advanced apps with lots of features, and for an innovative application with unusual elements the price would be around $5000-$10000.

Read also: How Much Does It Cost to Develop a Mobile App? 

We are serious about development in general and about the interface design in particular. Not only because the interface is the application’s facade and determines by large the perception of the same by the user, but also because in the post-release period the awesome UI design is often one of the main marketing tools, helping to increase sales and the popularity of the application as a whole. We are the American development company with a dedicated development center in Ukraine. We sport the extensive experience designing mobile apps. We hire best UI/UX-designers and devote a lot of resources to their motivation, training and education. We offer the mobile app design services for iOS and Android. Be it the project for startup, enterprise or individual entrepreneur – we’ll do our best to create the best app design. Try us, contact our managers today and find out how we can help you solve your challenges.

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