10 Principals of Mobile App Design

November 17, 2016 by Ashley Poag

Mobile app design has become increasingly intricate due to marketing, personalization and demand. Google lets us know that there are four main motivations when a user interacts with your mobile application. Users typically fall into one or more of the following categories; “I want to go”, “I want to know”, “I want to do”, and “I want to buy”. When designing a mobile app for one or more of these purposes we have to keep this in mind from start to finish. Web-users rely so heavily on mobile apps to satisfy these motivations that 200 billion apps are expected to be downloaded in 2017, according to emarketer.com. The challenges for mobile app developers and designers is ensuring that customers find, download, and stay engaged with your app. The number of users that open an app and never return is 25%.


BP Studios has been designing mobile apps in Raleigh for more than 15 years. Keeping the user's driving force in mind, we’ve come up with 10 principles of mobile app design for you to follow.


“I Want To Do”

Menus: Ensure that the menu is concise with no overlap. Having categories that overlap in action, product or service can be confusing and counterintuitive.

Back Function: Don’t force a user to start over because they need to go back one step. Create  back function that can be performed in one step.


Form Errors: It’s a pain to hit submit only to find out there is an error. Notify  the user of form errors in real time. This will allow them to move through the app more efficiently.


“I Want To Buy”

Payment Options:  When programing in the payment options add as many of the credit card vendors as you can, and also include options like Payal and Apple Pay.


Search: Your search options should be highly visible. Also, include autocorrect and prediction text.


Text Input: If the text input calls for numbers, match this to the keyboard and vice-versa.


“I Want To Know”

Permissions: Ask the user during the relevant task for permissions. Also, inform the user how allowing the app that particular use will benefit them.


Sign In: Many times users will see something on TV and want to look it up on their phone quickly. It’s annoying to be thwarted by a sign on issue.  Make sure you distinguish sign-in form vs. Sign-up in a way that’s visually and quickly recognized. Also, allow third party sign-ins. Users are often already logged into things like their Gmail account or Facebook.


“I Want to Go”

Icon Labels: Label icons with text. Not all icon communications are universal. So, labeling them with text ensures a better understanding and UX.


Location Settings: Most apps auto detect location. But, many times users want to find businesses in other areas. So, make it really simply to change the location settings.

The ability to develop and design mobile apps within the complexities of marketing and UX have become critical. As your users start to expect more personalization and intuitiveness from mobile applications. Companies that can stay ahead of trend stand to gain many more new customers and loyal users.

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