5 Mobile App UI Design Best Practices

21 May. 2014 Mobile App

Designing user interfaces for mobile devices and tablets require a different design approach than the one utilized for desktop browsers. This is due to differences in screen real estate as well as different touch gestures.

Here’s a look at the design standards that should be adopted when developing a mobile user experience strategy for smartphones and tablets.

Mobile User Interface Design focuses on mainly two elements – User Experience and User Perception. That’s why, while developing a mobile application, the primary objective should be more on the ‘usability’ and ‘flow’. The other aspect to take care of is the application’s content and branding. The key is to keep the designs refined and noticeable.

Mobile User Interface
A Mobile User Interface Theme Screenshot (Image Source: 365PSD)

Best practices for Mobile User Interface Design

  1. Divide the target audience – Experts and novices

  2. While designing a mobile application’s User Interface (UI), one should precisely take care of the interface in terms of user experience and make sure that it is easy to navigate from the first time the user interacts with it.

    Balancing the needs of a novice user and an expert user should be considered. Making the UI simple and easy to grasp for a novice user but making sure its efficient for the expert user is important.

    The UI designer should also be able to identify the goals set by the organization for the user. By understanding the different user personas and typical tasks, the designer should frame out various scenarios and tasks that the user would navigate through while using the mobile application. Creating a unique mobile user experience should be of prime importance while developing the UI design.

  3. Respect the screen real-estate – Size, location and space matters

  4. There are several exclusive user interface design concerns to be considered when designing for mobile applications. It starts with knowing the mobile hardware as well as the mobile app front end development technology.The goal is to provide an application that anticipates the user’s needs and provides the information that he would require.

    The right combination of branding, aesthetics, and user experience with utilizing the screen space optimally remains a challenge while designing for mobile applications. Each layer is designed to be its own ecosystem that tries to capture the user’s interest and should prevent them from switching to another application.

    Utilizing screen space while delivering the important information across in an easy to access and navigate through is also a challenge. This can be taken care of by presenting some of the elements in a list. One should follow the principles and mechanisms for grouping the information to deliver information in an easy and intuitive manner. Size of buttons, location of menus and content are some of the design elements that need to be taken care of. White spaces and simple clean designs can enhance the mobile app user experience to a great extent.

  5. Limit feature list – How much is too much

  6. Fight the urge to incorporate everything under the sun on this one app. Make sure this app solves a business issue or need, and that it does a phenomenal job at doing just that. The more your keep adding, the more chances are that your app’s performance will suffer. Update as and when you think your app is mature enough to handle the other features.

    Shortening the development cycles should be considered as new platform updates keep altering the development environment for these mobile apps. A mobile user design that can accommodate future additions would ensure the users can carry on with using the app with minimum need to re-learn the app’s design and navigation.

  7. Create user experiences for customers – Incorporate what customers want and not what they ask for

  8. User feedback on design and usage can help, but make sure you can differentiate from what they need vs. what they ask for. Observe the usage and user interactions with the mobile app and refine the design concept over time. This helps in creating an intuitive and smooth mobile app design that can deliver great user experience. Usability testing will ensure that users can perform the desired tasks efficiently.

  9. Design should not be an afterthought – Strategize early on

Rope in the UI designers early on during the strategy phase during mobile app development. Don’t treat design as an added feature and try incorporating it once the development starts.

User Interaction is critical for the mobile application designers and developers to provide good interaction mechanism that can be achieved by handling multimodal inputs and laying out the information architecture. Creating a high-level information architecture should be done before creating low fidelity sketches and wireframes to ensure that all the requirements are captured.

This information should allow developers to think about how the user would interact with the interface from a functional perspective, making sure that the mobile user interfaces designs that the designers create don’t just look at the aesthetics. Functional use of the mobile application takes high priority along with a clean and simple UI.

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