Designing Apps – UI Design Tips for Apple or Android

23/07/2015 - Posted by Roshelle Curtis

Mobile apps require design that caters for small screens and quick attention grabbing. It’s suggested to design at the speed of thought, so things are easy for novices, without frustrating app-savvy users. If you want an app designed, approach PSE for a quote – and check out some useful recommendations here!.

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We’ve gathered some handy hints below, via a news article – 7 tips to create awesome mobile app design – by TheNextWeb featured in on July 1
st. There are more than seven suggestions here. However, these should help you put together your design ideas more clearly.

Get to know your users

It’s the first step when creating goal driven app user interfaces. This can be done through usability test sessions or remote usability tests, often done by companies such as Seek, to see where job-hunter eyes go on a page, to guide employers on ad construction – as to how much, and what they read. Research companies can determine how people use your app in natural settings through gestures, eye movement and body position. Three popular methods along this line include:
Personas – Expected behaviour to decide what drives user decisions.
Scenarios – For insight into how users act for UI design that best suits them and their goals.
Experience Maps – All possible conditions for single interactions, charting usage steps to take into account possible emotions and circumstances.

Existing design guidelines

Some recommend working off the Five Pillars of Interactive Design:
Goal-driven Design – Use surveys, interviews and research to help design for your target market, creating goals and tailoring workflows to insight received.
Usability – The first step in desirability, ensuring easy use to encourage download and demand.
Affordance and Signifiers – This is about function and the hints towards it such as blue text and underlined section, which indicate click-throughs. Users shouldn’t need to think.
Learnability – Instincts and experience such as regular patterns, palettes and layout create familiarity and ease of use.
Feedback and Response Time – Beeps, modal windows or shading for instance can confirm tasks are complete, so timing guidelines are met in a friendly and encouraging human way.

Map out content and flow-charts in advance

Prototypes and sketches can help you understand the flow between content and action. This is where you flesh out app ideas and build a common understanding of each app page around the content giving a more accurate understanding of the total number of app pages needed. Sketching each page of your flow helps explore various page flows, layout and structure with prototypes then used to test these.

What devices will apps be used on?

UI design for Apple and Android mobile apps revolve around device-specific elements such as thumb placement, posture and orientation. Studying common mobile patterns make users more comfortable such as slide-out navigation. Common UI patterns are the base for usability and your own creativity can then be layered over this to create interest whilst matching expectation.

How will users undertake commands?

Gestures such as double tap, pinch, touch, zoom and swipe, are all second nature to mobile users with touch devices. Combining animations with these gestures adds depth as motion grounds users in the UI whilst adding context to the experience. For instance, navigation buttons at the screen’s base are simpler to use for tapping with thumbs, than at the top of a page.

Consider your wording

Important words should appear first, with labels phrased so users feel in control. Keep wording consistent with uniform style and finder-friendly design.

Layout suggestions

Allow space for users to tap with their finger. Small or closely grouped buttons mean users may not be able to tap accurately creating frustration and reducing the likelihood of use. Fingers are generally considered around 45-57 pixels wide, but be sure not to make it so big, that it’s not thought of as an action. Keep fingers and interaction in mind.

Hands, fingers or thumbs?

Everyone holds phones differently but this tends to be categorised into three forms:
· One thumb and one handed.
· Two handed with one digit.
· Two hands used with two thumbs.
Tablets are also held in various ways. Although, apparently most tablets are held on their side.


Buttons, toggles and visual cues mean that shadows must be used to help UI to be interpreted more naturally. 3D buttons and input forms can appear outset (like pop-ups, downdrop controls, slider buttons, and unpressed buttons) or inset (such as input fields, pressed buttons, checkboxes, or slider tracks). Semi flat designs are recommended to give modern looks whilst cueing users for action.

Avoid clutter

Overall when designing apps, the aim is for users to undertake tasks fast – completing what’s required with the minimum amount of steps. Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer recommends it should only take two taps to complete any action, once you’re in app. Reduce work for users. Enable them to complete the mains things they need, from your first screen. If they think less, then apps are more likely to achieve success.

If all these tips are overwhelming, then feel free to approach PSE to design your app! We can make your ideas come to life, and jump off the small screen – so contact us today.

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