Mobile application design. How to achieve the optimal result?

There was written a lot about the design of mobile applications. Nevertheless, there are a lot of nuances in this area. Some are not known to everyone, others are quickly forgotten. In this post, we will try to describe several techniques for working with the mobile app design, which can be called effective and proven.

Ideally, an application for mobile devices should work with the speed of thought. Moreover, the interface of the application should be understandable even for the beginner.

Rules that always work

There are five main factors that are important in designing the interaction with the application.
  • Purposefulness. You create a design for a specific user. Now the web has a lot of data about different categories of users, and many materials - research, reviews - are available for free. Studying this information will help you create an application that fully meets the needs of the target audience.
  • Usability. Your application should be user-friendly and intuitive. For example, if you want to specify a link to go to a third-party resource, create it in the usual way - using the underlined blue text. Convenience and practicality is the first step on the way to making your program become desirable for the user.
  • Affordance and symbolism. Affordance is a function. For simplicity, we again use the method with reference. So, the blue underlined text indicates that clicking on it will redirect the user to certain address. Such symbols should be used in such a way that the user does not reflect on what this or that interface element may mean. Practicality and rationality are our all.
  • Learning. Ideally, the user should easily guess how to work with the program. Here come to the aid of familiar and familiar application design schemes. They should help a person get used to the program without problems.
  • Feedback and response time. During mobile development application response should give the user an idea of whether the task is completed or not. This can be a normal audio signal or something more complex - for example, a modal window. Make sure that the application's feedback conforms to the regulations set by the Nielsen Norman Group.

Know your users

The first step in creating a goal-oriented interface is to study your audience. The size of the display is not the only limitation during mobile application development, whether it's an Android app development or Iphone app development. Users also form the requirements for the interface and it is needed to take them into account.
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Due to this issue there is a clear tactic, consisting of three provisions:

  • Personas: help to understand what will prompt the user to perform an action inside the application. These are formal, theoretical models of real users.
  • User Scenarios: provide modeling of various situations, helps to predict user actions. Due to this, it is possible to develop an interface that is optimal for simulated users and tasks that they want to perform.
  • Experience maps: all possible conditions for individual interaction are studied here. The diagram will help describe each step of the user, which will be executed with high probability at a certain stage of work with the application. Such a scheme will help to understand the emotions and circumstances that lead to the fulfilment of each action.
The easiest way to accomplish these points can be remote testing of usability using a mobile app development services that helps to study the behavior of users in nature. To even better study this issue (for example, take into account the gestures and even the position of the body), it is worthwhile to work with real users (at least five people).

Content and User behavior

This point allows you to simultaneously develop the application and study the possible behavior of users. The ideal option is an outline, which explores the interaction of users with content. And in this there is nothing stupid - the work of a person with the content of the program can be illustrated on paper. This will help to understand how the users will interact with the application.
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Before you make a prototype, the handwritten scheme will help you learn the most important part of the application - the content. Understanding the possible pattern of user interaction with content will help to give a more accurate estimate of the number of pages / screens required in the program.
The next step is to create a schema for each page of the transition. And here it is already possible to continue the iteration, gradually shifting from paper schemes to digital prototyping.
The scheme will help you quickly explore possible transitions to pages / from application pages. Sketches allow you to "revive" the application and understand more details and structure of the program. The digital prototype will help to test the behavior of real users.

Improving usability with user-familiar schemes


The design of the mobile application should be made "familiar" to the user. For example, almost all cartographic services use a slide-out navigation reception. This allows the user to feel "at home". The application is unfamiliar, but the scheme of working with it is well known and understandable.
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It is worth noting that we do not suggest that you copy the design of applications from other developers. It's about using public interface elements. If you use this advice, it's worth making sure that the design of your application meets the expectations of the user.
We recommend using two categories of user interaction scheme with the application interface:
  • Gestures: Tap, swipe, double tap, pinch, zoom-all this has become familiar to the user for a long time.
  • Animation: here is meant animation, which will make the application more alive. We recommend to combine animation with gesture control.

Schemes of user interaction with the application interface predetermine its structure and individual elements. For example, the navigation buttons at the bottom of the application are more familiar to users than the buttons placed at the top of the program.

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Take into account the user's finger size

The fingers of many users are much more than amateurs of sophisticated design could imagine. Therefore, it is necessary to adapt your program to fingers of different sizes.
They just need to leave enough room. If your buttons are too small or too close together, some people simply will not be able to hit them. As a consequence, users will be annoyed and, perhaps, stop working with such a program.
Here's what to consider when designing buttons and other sensory elements:
We all keep the phone or tablet in different ways. Even the same person in different situations keeps the device in different ways.

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Our fingers are really big. Their width is about 45-57 pixels, which is more than what most manuals for test devices recommend. Apple, for example, recommends the goal of a square shape with a side size of 44 pixels. And this is not always enough.

Remember about the gradient and shadows

Flat design has already become a new standard, but this does not mean that the shadows and gradient are a distant past, and this option should be discarded. Not at all, just the approach to design has changed a little. The shadow is usually very relevant when designing buttons, switches and the like.
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The shadows and gradient of individual elements make the interface more user-friendly. These tricks can be used to create three-dimensional buttons and input fields.

Remove the chaos

The rule of three clicks is actual and now, and it should be used when designing application design. Why? It allows you to understand what is really needed for application pages.
Try to make it so that the user has to perform a minimum number of actions. The less the user will have to make efforts when interacting with the program, the more likely that your application will be successful.
 

Best regards,
Your Ardas Team