Design Ideas for Rockstar Apps
:: By Chirag Leuva, Yudiz Solutions ::
Design among other factors plays a vital role in the success of a mobile app.
Developers should ask themselves whether their app looks interesting to a user a first glance; whether or not it looks realistic and organized; and finally does it provide assurance that it's reliable and worth the potential user's time? Along with user experience rules to follow (or to break), here are design ideas for rockstar apps.
1. Simple, straight to the point and clutter free
Clutter is a strict no-no to designers of Web pages and mobile apps. Unwillingly, however, some designers in the pursuit of offering too many elements in one page makes it look cluttered. Even when the app actually does not contain too many things it may still create an impression of clutter simply because of inappropriate text size, font styles, color schemes and buttons.
The popular fitness app FitBit, for example, de-clutters its "challenges" page through a clear hierarchy (challenges in progress) and challenges to consider.
2. Make the UI interactive and engaging
Offering an interactive user interface (UI) takes the center stage among all the key considerations of an app designer. Creative gust is welcome but do not venture to be too unconventional. Completely unknown and wildly unconventional UI would create a weird impression and would only increase confusion.
3. Ideal button size
It is said that ideal button size should be similar to the size of the finger tip. But many designers insist that while handling the mobile device most users tend to utilize their thumb for navigation. So the button should be appropriate to the size of thumb tip. Another important aspect is the appropriate gap between buttons as it would give more ease in navigation.
While this grocery store app (see image below) does not have thumb-sized navigation options, the + icons, which loads a coupon to a person's loyalty card, have just enough space between them that the user will not accidentally add the wrong coupon.
4. Spacing and font size is most important
Appropriate spacing in text and between images and among navigation buttons will provide seamless navigation, ease of access and better readability. Nobody reads fine prints these days and nobody likes jumbled texts.
5. Consider a color hierarchy
Using a color hierarchy orients the reader with the priorities and helps them decide what to do next. For instance, while seeking opinion you can give four options such as Excellent, Pretty Good, Could Be Improved and Poor in four hierarchical buttons in shades respectively as black, dark gray, faint gray and white. The order of prominence from dark to lighter shades would be felt by the user automatically.
While not color-coded per say, the Starbucks app uses a pop of color (gold, the only color on the rewards page) to call users' attention right away to what they really care about (what level of membership they have and how many current stars they have earned through purchases).
6. Make a conscious brand statement with color
Color in apps is not just another design element. Color should be used in coherence with the brand behind the app. Making a brand statement with similar and consistent color scheme is a practice embraced by every facet of advertisement, marketing and branding activities. Whether the color used in your app is effective or not that is more important than so call preference or aesthetic taste.
7. Keep all types of users in mind
An app launched for any platform can be used by seasoned users or by people less exposed to such apps and the overall world of apps. So, while developing an app keep both types of users in mind and make sure that the design follows the well-known conventions that can be easily adopted and learned by new users.
For example, Target's Cartwheel app could be overwhelming to the non-tech savvy user, so it provides clear navigation for its different deal categories.
8. UI should be friendly to natural user gesture and finger movement
How the majority of users handles a mobile device and navigates through the apps is an important factor for designing the UI. Follow the motion or flow that the thumb of user follows while navigating a device. Most users holding the handset in one hand navigate by the use of their thumb so make sure that the elements are integrated at the bottom instead of top of the page.
9. Use only popular and well-known icons
Icons should be well known and already popular ones so that users do not feel confused about their meaning. When using icons in your apps make sure they are already in use across the space of Web and apps and users can readily recognize the action referred by them. The "hamburger" icon (see image), for instance, is well known to design types, but is still fairly unfamiliar for the average user, so designers may want to consider using the word "Menu" along with the icon.
10. Offer a search area
Offering screen titles inside an app may be precious because of the huge space that they consume. But, without offering the users ease of access to any previous page or area they visited earlier, your app can be felt confusing and time consuming for navigation. Offering a search area inside the app can be a nice solution to this problem, especially for content rich apps with too many pages.
11. Maintain a visual consistency throughout the app
Creating every app page with different design and visual elements can ruin the impact of the app. Inconsistency in visual elements would spoil the brand identity of the app as well. Make sure that the color scheme, design elements, images, fonts all offer a singular look and feel with synchronized visual elements.
12. Go with a design trend
Flat design swept the Web design space in the past few years and now it also took over as a design trend in apps. Following the current trend always gives your app an edge because the vast majority of users just prefer to go with what they think is "cool." You can further augment the design with high resolution images to make sure the "flat" looks isn't too boring.
Creativity in app design is important as long as it augments the app in usefulness and visual impact. Offering a perfect balance between usability and visual appeal is the key to successful app design.
Author Bio: Chirag Leuva is the CEO of Yudiz Solutions, a mobile app design and development company; where he works to bring client ideas to reality. He enjoys pushing the limits of user interaction and finding ways to create awesome reusable components within a mobile environment.