Mobile applications are advantageous for both customers and business owners—or at least, they should be. With a well-designed app, businesses can add value for consumers, expand their offerings, and increase engagement.
The most common mobile apps are an extension of a business website. And while the options for development are nearly endless, a single defining factor unites them: They must be user friendly.
To compete in the acceleration economy, user engagement must be priority, and mobile apps are among the most critical tools for engagement. If a poor user experience puts consumers off, the time and money spent on development are not only wasted, but could have negative consequences.
Following are key considerations for designing and developing effective mobile apps.
1. Simplicity and Clarity
Simplicity is perhaps the most essential feature of a user-friendly app. The screens on mobile devices are not designed to accommodate complicated layouts. Not only is it frustrating for users to navigate complex mobile interfaces, but it can also mean they are unable to access the content they want or need.
When designing a mobile app, it’s important to understand how the content will be consumed and ensure the elements on the page fit accordingly. A mobile app interface should be designed from the bottom up with simplicity in mind.
2. Carefully Selected Icons and Images
Icons and images aren’t just “page furniture”—they serve a purpose. When developing a mobile app, you must be aware of the icons and images you use and, crucially, why you choose the ones you do.
Mobile apps don’t afford a great deal of space, and, as mentioned, simplicity is key. Graphics can help keep users engaged. However, try to use images sparingly and ensure they are related to the text or overall design.
When it comes to logos, don’t select options randomly. Again, they must be relatable and intuitive.
3. Responsive Design
One of the critical aspects of any mobile app is a responsive design, where the content adjusts automatically to the device display. With responsive design, there is no danger of content warping, regardless of the end user’s device. Responsive apps automatically adapt to the device, ensuring that switching from one device to another does not affect the user experience (UX).
This responsive design should filter down to the text you use, as well. You don’t want the copy to be sharp and clear on some devices, but illegible on others. For all of these reasons, responsiveness is critical.
4. Intuitive UX
In addition to being simply designed, a mobile app should be intuitive. By this, I mean that navigating the app should feel natural, with elements linked in a way that a user would expect. For example, there should be a dropdown menu to navigate the most critical sections of the app. When you use rigid structures that prevent a user from seamlessly moving through their journey on the app, you inhibit the UX.
One quick way of ensuring that a user can always navigate where they want to go is to enable multiple ways to return to the home screen. To do this, consider a dedicated home button, a linked logo, or a related image.
5. Search Box
Along the same lines of intuitive UX, a search box is an essential feature of a mobile app because it removes confusion. Some users may be relatively inexperienced with mobile apps, but familiar with browsing the web. In this case, they may be more comfortable navigating the app via a search box.
The primary aim of any mobile app is to provide added value, but if a user struggles to find the information they need, that’s a lost opportunity. While page elements such as dropdown menus aid simple navigation, a search box takes this functionality one step further.
6. Fast-Loading, Reliable code
Another non-negotiable factor is reliability. Users expect mobile apps to open quickly, and load and function seamlessly. There should be no lagging as you scroll through the sections. It’s best to carry out regular code audits to root out bugs and ensure the technology is secure.
7. Support Features
Your website is bound to have an extensive support section, which might include an FAQ, chat, phone support, and/or a dedicated help site. Mobile apps should be no different.
Users can encounter issues at any stage of their interactions with your technology, and it’s best to provide quick solutions. How you do that is up to you, but a best practice is to have more than one option. Ideally, your app should include a live chat feature, email support, and an automated chatbot for FAQs.