Subscribe to our Monthly Newsletter
Smartphone usage is at an all-time high, with users spending an average of 5.01 hours daily on their mobile devices. Yet, 24% of apps are used only once after installation, while 57% are deleted within a month.
Why is this happening? A common culprit is poor mobile app design.
Smartphone users seek convenience and efficiency. As such, a well-designed app can significantly impact its user engagement and retention rates.
However, creating a successful mobile app design involves various components and considerations. From understanding your target audience to incorporating user experience and interface (UX/UI) design, there is a lot to unpack.
In this guide, we uncover mobile app design basics and provide practical tips to help you create an engaging, user-friendly, and successful app.
What Is Mobile App Design?
Mobile app design is creating a mobile application that works seamlessly on different devices, such as smartphones and tablets. It involves designing for two components – user experience (UX) and user interface (UI).
- UX design involves creating a positive and enjoyable experience for the user while using the app. This includes understanding their needs, preferences, and behavior patterns to create an intuitive app that meets their expectations.
- UI design focuses on how the app looks and feels. It covers everything from color schemes and typography to buttons, icons, and other visual elements that make the app appealing and easy to navigate.
When combined, these two components determine how users interact with an app and whether they will continue using it.
Mobile App vs. Website Design: What’s the Difference?
While mobile apps and websites offer similar functions, there are some key differences in their design process.
When designing for mobile, the available screen real estate is significantly less compared to a desktop or laptop. Constraints like these require designers to prioritize key features and content, ensuring the most important information is accessible to users without excessive scrolling or navigation.
Further, mobile app development often involves innovative strategies such as collapsible menus, minimalistic design elements, and intuitive touch controls.
Mobile apps can leverage various hardware capabilities that websites may not fully utilize. Finger gestures like swipe, pinch, and tap introduce a range of interactive possibilities. Accelerometers allow developers to incorporate motion-based user interactions, while geolocation enables location-specific features.
This creates a more immersive and personalized user experience, setting mobile apps apart from their website counterparts.
Unlike website development requiring constant internet connectivity, mobile apps offer significant functionality, even offline functionality. This is especially crucial for users in areas with unreliable internet connections.
Designers must consider how the app functions in both scenarios, ensuring users can access essential features without internet access.
Mobile apps can leverage their respective operating systems’ unique features and services. These built-in features often aid in user experience and monetization strategies. For example, in-app purchases and subscriptions, facilitated seamlessly through app stores, provide an effective revenue generation model for many mobile apps.
Mobile apps support high-quality animations and transitions, giving designers a unique tool to enhance user experience. Smooth transitions can guide users, provide feedback, and maintain continuity as users navigate the app.
Popular screen design tools often provide a palette of pre-designed transitions, reducing development time and ensuring a professional and consistent look and feel.
Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) is one feature that is not available in mobile app design. SVG files are supported on all modern browsers, but that support does not extend to mobile apps. The closest equivalent is 2x images, which provide higher resolution assets for retina displays.
Optimizing for Different Platforms – iOS vs. Android
Designing for multiple platforms is essential for reaching a broader user base and offering an inclusive experience. The two main mobile operating systems are iOS, which powers Apple devices, and Android, which powers most other smartphone brands.
Here are some key differences between iOS and Android app design:
- Design Guidelines: Both operating systems have specific guidelines for designing apps. Apple refers to its guidelines as the Human Interface Guidelines, while Google’s guidelines are called Material Design. Following these guidelines helps ensure consistency and familiarity for users.
- Device Resolutions: iOS mobile app development requires design assets for three resolutions: 1x, 2x, and 3x. For Android mobile apps, designers must consider 1x, 1.5x, 2x, 3x, and 4x.
- Design Elements: Apple often employs a sleek, minimalist aesthetic, while Android utilizes a more vibrant and colorful design approach.
- App Integration: Apple offers a more closed ecosystem, limiting integration with third-party apps. In comparison, Android provides more flexibility for app integration and sharing data between applications.
- Device Pairing: With iOS devices, apps must readily integrate with iPads, Macs, Apple Watches, and more, while Android should sync with wearables, tablets, VR tools, etc.
Best Practices in Mobile App Design
When it comes to mobile app design, adhering to best practices is crucial in creating an intuitive, engaging, and user-friendly app. Here are some of the key best practices to keep in mind:
Mobile screens have limited space, so keeping design elements and navigation simple is essential. Avoid clutter by using minimalistic design principles and prioritizing key features.
Design for Touch Interactions
Unlike desktops or laptops, mobile devices primarily rely on touch interactions. As such, designers must consider how users interact with their apps using fingers rather than a mouse. Designing for touch can include larger buttons, intuitive gestures, and easy navigation.
Keep Load Times in Mind
Mobile users expect quick loading times. Optimizing images, using efficient coding practices, and minimizing the number of features can help improve load times for a better user experience.
Consistency in design elements such as color schemes, fonts, and layout is essential for building a strong brand identity and creating an intuitive app experience. Users should feel comfortable navigating your app from any screen without confusion.
Optimize for Usability
Prioritize usability in your design. This involves ensuring the app is easy to use and navigate, with clear calls to action (CTA), easily accessible menus, and intuitive user flows.
Provide immediate feedback to user interactions through visual cues, sound, or vibration. Doing so gives users a sense of control and helps them understand the app’s functionality.
Ensure your app is accessible for users of all abilities, including those with vision or hearing impairments. This can include features such as adjustable text sizes and audio descriptions.
Usability testing is vital to uncovering any user experience issues in your app. Conduct user testing with real users, gather feedback and make necessary adjustments to improve overall app design usability.
Create High-Converting Mobile App Designs With Jackrabbit Mobile
Mobile app design requires careful consideration of various factors, including user experience, operating systems, and best practices. At Jackrabbit Mobile, we create intuitive, high-functioning mobile app designs that drive results.
Our mobile app design services include everything from wireframing to prototyping and testing to ensure your app is optimized for usability and engagement. We also consider the unique features and guidelines of iOS and Android to ensure your app stands out on both platforms.
Partner with Jackrabbit Mobile for expert mobile app design services that elevate your brand and drive conversions. Contact us today to get started!
Let’s Make Your Idea Reality
We deliver value to partners through mobile strategy expertise, user-centered design, and lean methodology. Take a look around our work portfolio and drop us a line, we’d love to chat.