Designing a User-Friendly Mobile Application
The growth of the mobile application markets has been exponential over the past few years. Judging from the numbers, the upward hike doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon! Just last year, approximately $92.1 billion was spent on developing mobile apps, which makes complete sense considering there are over 3 billion smartphone users around the world. Moreover, 76% of that amount (which makes it $69.9 billion) was spent on developing mobile games alone.
The number is expected to rise even more, to $106.4 billion, in two years. The number does sound absurd, right? But yes, it is true. However, whether or not the applications are bringing in ROI is another thing entirely. Before diving into ROI and mobile app development, let’s first understand the different factors that make the application good for the user. What are they?
One of the most important factors responsible for making or breaking a mobile app is… user-friendliness. No matter which market is being targeted by developers, it’s absolutely important to consider just how user-friendly the app is for the people who will use it.
What is the user-friendliness of a mobile app? User-friendly means that an app must be intuitive, easy to use, and simple. It should be a product that a customer or client can rely upon when using. It’s relatively easy to start with an app and understand how to use it, which means that high complexity or difficult to use apps are not valuable for the user. Reliability is a crucial element as an app cannot help the user if it doesn’t work properly or has bugs.
Do you want to jump into this rising and evergreen market? The first step is to design a user-friendly application! And to do that, your app should be designed in a way that it offers something unique, has visual appeal, engages, and interacts with your target audience the way you want.
What are the key considerations that need to be kept in mind to design a user-friendly application?
4 Key Stages of the App Design Process
Designing an app is one thing but designing it in a manner that all the UI/UX principles are kept in mind, is another. The following stages should be kept in mind while designing an application.
1. Do Market Research
Did you know that only 1% of the applications that make it to either the PlayStore or the App Store are successful? Just how many apps are there on the App Store and Google PlayStore? As of the third quarter of 2020, Android users could choose between 2.87 million apps which makes Google PlayStore the biggest app store as per the number of available apps.
The second-largest app store was the Apple App Store with almost 1.96 million available apps for iOS. Keep in mind that both Apple and Google regularly remove low-quality content from their app stores, so the exact number can fluctuate… even with this, the number of apps has been steadily increasing over the years.
What does this mean? The chances of your application being successful are dependent on many things… A successful app smartly combines three aspects:
- The market
- The user
- The product
If you want to avoid the slump, conducting market research is an absolute must. The benefit of doing market research is that you will be able to understand what user interface practices are being used currently and how you can get your application to stand out.
Market research helps to recognize and understand consumer needs, identify different business opportunities, build a strong marketing strategy to support the app, reduce losses, and keep track of the competition.
It’s essential to keep the following in mind while conducting market research:
Investigating the Target Audience
The process will allow you to understand whether the design of your application meets the requirements of the users it’s catering to. You will define the various demographics you are targeting and make changes accordingly. The key thing to keep in mind are the factors that influence the user to take an action. It could be the design, could be the price, could be a combination of the two and so many more.
Interviewing Potential Users
This will be a very qualitative analysis to understand what can prompt the user to use the app itself and in what manner it addresses the main points it has. Let’s say you have an idea for an app that will be used in self-driving cars, so, you will go on and conduct a study and interview several users and ask them about their needs and interaction perspectives with the application.
Conduct an Analysis
Doing a competitive analysis is a great way to understand what the benchmarks of the industry are. There is a saying; “Always stay one step ahead of your competition”. But how do you do it? Conducting an analysis and comparison is an effective strategy… This will help you to know what tactics your competition is employing. You will look at the design of a rival app, its USPs and how you can use all of this information to offer a unique product in the market.
2. Create an App Wireframe
Once you have finished all of the market research, you will have to create a wire-frame. In this step, you will be required to create an easy layout of your application and highlight the various touchpoints that will put light on how the mobile application will interact with the end-user.
However, this step will require a collaborative effort from all of the stakeholders involved in the process of app development.
After this, you will map out the different customer journeys. Why? By doing this you will be able to see all of the actions a user has to take to reach a specific goal. For example, let’s consider that your app is designed to help a user purchase a book from any bookstore in the area. Now the customer journey/user flow will consist of all the steps a user takes to reach that goal.
Low-Level Wireframing The user flows and the wireframes are a basic representation of the user interaction and their journey across the application.
High-Level Wireframing High level wireframing is meant to be an advanced look into the various user flows that will take place in the mobile application.
3. Initiation of the UX/UI Stage
1. User Experience (UX) Design
The primary goal of this stage is to make a user-friendly app. During this process you will only be focusing on the design and feel of the application but how those design elements interact with the user and the experience they provide.
As Steve Jobs once said, “design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how ‘it’ works”.
There is no denying the fact that a good user experience plays a great role in the success of your application. Some research indicates that a good user experience is directly responsible for a 400 percent increase in conversion. That is a pretty big number.
If you do want to develop a successful mobile application, then following the principle of experience design is extremely necessary. Some important points to take note of are:
- Analyze how your application can solve the problem users are facing
- Sit together with product and design teams to create customer journeys, cases, personas, etc.
- Address the needs and pain points of the end-user
2. User Interface (UI) Design
This process will require you to come up with a design that looks good based on the way it interacts with the user. While designing, please keep the following principles in mind.
- Attention needs to be given to the way users will interact with the application itself.
- Come up with an intuitive design – the design functionality of the app should be able to predict the user's needs
- Color selections, contrast, and brightness of your UI all play an important role.
4. Testing of the App Design
Now that you have done all of the hard work. It’s time to test the design you have come up with. Testing is an important step that should not be overlooked. Because sometimes, testing can reveal things about the design of your application that you might have missed. The idea is to test the usability of the application. There are several kinds of testing methods you can use.
First click testing
This method of testing will look at the clicks needed to perform a certain action in your application.
In this method of testing, the testing team is provided with two design options to look at and their input is recorded for their preferences.
In this method of testing, you select a group of people and give them access to your application for a time period and then get feedback from them.
Developing a user-friendly requires you to take a user-friendly approach. Here is a general overview of the topics we have discussed so far.
- Understand the context of the application
- Find out what the user wants
- Finding the right design
- Testing the design of the application
Always keep in mind that the design of your application should be responsive. Remember that the end user will be using the app on various devices and the design of your application should be able to hold up.
When in doubt, just follow the basics. The simplicity of your design will make the experience intuitive. In the end, convenience and ease of use for the end-user should always be priority #1 of your design.