The importance of mobile design really cannot be exaggerated these days. In 2014, 60 percent of web traffic came from a mobile device. That’s well over half, and more than enough reason to convince any sane person of the importance of mobile first design.
But building a top smartphone app is tough. Contrary to what most people believe, beauty in an app isn’t about aesthetics; it’s about design. And to ensure a truly beautiful design, you need a concept, an execution plan, and a mobile app designer who is truly top notch.
- Beautifully designed smartphone apps are user-centered.
Designers can get caught up in creating something beautiful, adding to their portfolio, or pleasing their client. But a designer should never forget who the most important person to please is: the user. User centered design is becoming increasingly common, but many designers still forget to put the user first. In the end, it doesn’t matter how beautiful an app is. If it’s not easy to use, no one will download it or keep it for long.
Information should be presented clearly, navigation should be easy, and there should not be a ton of extra, unnecessary bells and whistles. Every app has a purpose, and in the end, that purpose isn’t beauty. Use beautiful design to enhance the purpose of your app, not detract from it, and you are sure to have a success on your hands.
- Beautifully designed smartphone apps are simple.
Simplicity and user-centered go hand in hand, and the most successful apps make difficult tasks simple. Think about an app like Acorns. This app focuses on a task that seems endlessly complicated to most people: investing. Yet Acorns takes this complicated, involved process and makes it simple by investing your change for you to break down barriers for the average user.
The simplicity of the actual app is enhanced further by the simplicity in its design. The app features a simple color scheme, clean white lines, and a uniform font and layout throughout. Anything, even investing, can seem easy with a design like that.
- Beautifully designed smartphone apps use color creatively.
More and more apps these days are starting to have a signature color. Think Airbnb’s soft salmon, Snapchat’s bright yellow, or Skype’s light blue. These colors not only aid in brand recognition, but they also help keep some consistency as designs change over time. Not saying you have to rely on the same color for the entirety of your app’s existence, but it does help to pick a color that works for your concept. Different colors elicit different emotions, so check out a color chart and pick something that goes along with the vibe of your product.
- Beautifully designed smartphone apps are eye-catching.
Think about Apple’s weather app versus the Yahoo weather app. When you open Apple’s weather app, you check the temperature, whether or not you need an umbrella, and maybe the temperature for later that night. Then you close the app without a second thought and go about your day. Compare that to the Yahoo weather app. It gives you all the same information that you can find through Apple’s standard weather app but you never want to close it. You could stare at it for days – it’s that beautiful.
But it’s more than aesthetics (although those are beautiful). The Yahoo app allows you to do more than just check the weather; it allows you to see the weather. You get beautiful Flickr photos of whatever location you are in, plus an accurate depiction of what that place will look like when you walk outside right that minute. It just works.
- Beautifully designed smartphone apps are designed for the right platform.
A lot of developers out there think you can just clone your iOS app for Android – in fact, it’s one of the most common Android development mistakes. Android is a completely different platform from iOS, and developers should recognize the differences in each so they can design their app for the right one. You don’t want to push iOS design standards on Android, and you don’t want to push Android design standards on iOS.
Although Android is starting to gain ground, iOS has historically set design standards, so it is especially typical to see aspects of iOS creeping into Android design. If you’re developing for Android, unlike iOS, your lists should not have carets, your system notification icons should not have color, you should not use splash screens beyond the initial setup/introduction, and app icons should not be placed inside a rounded rectangle. Also, forget static tabs and do not place them at the bottom. These are sure signs that you are simply importing your iOS design.
- Beautifully designed smartphone apps are built considering potential problems down the line.
According to a report on app design, “Once a system is in development, correcting a problem costs 10x as much as fixing the same problem in design. If the system has been released, it costs 100x as much relative to fixing in design.”
The best designers should be familiar with other functional layers of app building, and they will keep this in mind as they create their designs. It’s always better to be able to recognize problems sooner rather than later, so be sure to find a designer who has at least a basic understanding of functionality or programming.
The journey may be tough, but it is possible. Whether you are building an app yourself or looking for the right person to build your app for you, it is a great first step to familiarize yourself with what you want and the steps you need to take to get there. If you are looking to hire someone else to design your app, however, you will need more than a list of elements. Things like having the right interview plan when hiring mobile designers will drastically simplify your search, and it also helps to be able to turn to someone who has been through the process before. Above all, don’t get discouraged – the right person is out there.