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More than half of the internet use worldwide is through mobile devices.
That number is increasing.
While apps may never completely replace websites, they aren’t going away.
Even if you already have a great website, you need an app.
Of course designing an app isn’t something that happens overnight. That’s why it’s best to plan carefully to maximize your time, efforts and investment.
Your blank canvas isn’t really blank.
While the screen may look like a blank white box as you start moving elements and designing your app, it is actually a grid. The arrangement of items on the grid can be a big deal for the customers looking at and using the app, so be sure you take into consideration just how structured your starting point is.
Do less with more color.
You don’t need to label every menu and every option if you use color wisely. Start choices with one color and use another to label submenus and diminishing options. Just be sure to use colors that have a contrast with the rest of the app. Too many of the same color can make it very challenging to see and hard for the user.
Logos aren’t as important as you think.
Don’t waste space on a giant logo on your app. Customize the app using your colors and theme and leave a small logo somewhere on the page and you should be good to go. You don’t need to hit people in the face with your logo on every page or option they visit.
Don’t forget white space.
Mobile users have small screens and often the best things are the things that aren’t cluttering up the screen. Keep app design simple and surround important items with plenty of white space to be sure they stand out properly.
Use elements consistently.
If you start with an orange button, finish with an orange button. Just like on your website, you should set style elements and stick with the plan. Your buttons, colors, fonts, spacing and graphics should be consistent across the app and preferably be tied to your website as well for consistency.
With limited real estate you don’t want to take up too much space, but you also don’t want your users to get lost on your app. The best way to leave a breadcrumb trail for visitors is to find a way to discreetly show the title of the menu or page on the screen so that users can sort out where they want to go next without restarting. A title that disappears and reappears at the top of the screen is a great way to do this.
Use creativity to your advantage.
There are millions of apps on the market offering similar or even identical things. Your focus should be on what sets your app apart from all of the others. What makes yours special? If you can use creativity to find new things to offer customers, your app will stand out from the competition. It follows that you’re going to have to do quite a bit of market research to understand what is already out there and what gaps there may be in the current marketplace. Set out to fill that gap or find a way to do something popular in a better way and you may have an easy start with your app development.
Hide your list.
Most mobile apps are clever lists and menus. It is very likely that your app will be the same thing. So to make your app as user-friendly and attractive as possible, look for clever ways to disguise the list elements and make the app feel more sophisticated and attractive than a bullet list with clickable elements. That’s not to say that you should make your app so beautiful and unique that it ceases to be functional. This is an app that is designed to simplify a user’s online experience. Be clever and creative without losing functionality.
Provide immediate feedback.
App users expect action to generate an immediate reaction. That means you don’t get to play around with wait time. Allow users to interact with your app frequently and be sure that there are immediate reaction to placate them, especially if a background process takes longer than they might prefer. This might just be an animated click or a color change, but something should happen with every click. Immediate gratification is very rewarding, and customers will respond accordingly.
Check platform guidelines.
Don’t bother designing your app without checking with the various mobile platforms first. The different platforms – iOS, Windows and Android – have their own visual guidelines and your app should meet the needs of all of the platforms so that it can be used by all users on any device. If you can’t get excited about spreading your app across all three platforms, you also get a big foothold in the app marketplace by becoming an expert in a single platform. Master one platform before spreading out into others and you may be able to economize your design process.
Allow frequent interactions.
When users interact on your app, they will find more reasons to use it and enjoy it. Like buttons, retweeting and voting are all evidence of this. Give your users what they want by finding ways to “like” or save things on your app. Bookmark, pin, highlight, love, like or just select. The more your user does, the more he likes what he’s using.
Make your app efficient.
Mobile apps need to move quickly. Mobiles are supposed to be faster than computers, and you certainly don’t want to risk angering users by designing an app that is heavy and cumbersome to load and function. This also means your app should be sucking down the user’s data plan. Find apps that can be used without data or at least have some features that can be used without data to ensure longevity.
Designing an app can be a time consuming process, but that’s to say you should feel overwhelmed by the process. Work with a designer or in house and let your app be the next phase of your business model. If you do it well, you won’t regret it.