Many entrepreneurs think of designers as fine artists. An essential thing they don`t know is that design has a lot to do with business success. If the design process is neglected, most times bankruptcy can occur.
A quick look at last year’s statistics shows that the number of mobile app downloads was somewhere between 56 and 82 billion, with the average user downloading between 26 and 41 apps. Very few of those apps are used on a regular basis. Other studies show that 95% of downloaded apps are abandoned within a month, and 26% of apps are only used once.
Therefore, it`s up to your users if your app survives the market. All you have to do is thoroughly think about what motivates the people who will use your product.
UI and UX design become a necessity companies can not ignore
There are different types of design. Wells Riley, a great designer who created Startups, this is how design works – an incredible guide is written for non-designers – clearly explains what each type does.
Graphic design works with graphical images such as illustrations, typography or images, on a variety of media supports, including print and the web. Industrial design is used for physical goods consumed by millions of people. When it comes to mobile products, we deal with Interaction Design.
We would say that graphic design is more about aesthetics while interaction design helps entrepreneurs achieve specific goals. It is a very important component of the development process, as it specifically focuses on satisfying customers’ needs.
There are two dimensions you should consider when designing a mobile app: user interface design and user experience design.
User Interface Design
Make sure the interface has elements that users are familiar with. The whole point of spending a lot of effort during this process is to anticipate what users might need to do and, then, come up with the easiest way to facilitate these actions. Satisfied customers always return, especially when they love interacting with your product. Start by knowing your users!
Each properly-designed app abides by some principles:
Users don’t like unnecessary elements. They only wish to find in your app what they are looking for. Not to mention that on the small screen real estate of a mobile there is no room for superfluous elements.
Consistency and common UI elements
By using common elements, you do your customers a huge favor. They will be able to get their tasks done more rapidly. Plus, by sticking to the same style, you will make it easier for them to recognize your product.
Strategic use of colors
Color and texture are elements that can direct attention. Call to action buttons has an important role. You can test different versions to see which one works better for your user. Optimize.ly does a great job at helping you with this.
Hierarchy and clarity
Typography can easily render your interface more organized. Choose different sizes and fonts to prioritize messages.
Good communication: Keeping your users informed about your product is an essential step you must take if you don’t want to lose them. Use your User Interface elements to do that.
User Experience Design
How do your users feel about using your app? Are they satisfied?
User Experience Design is about a lot of aspects combined – psychological, anthropological, sociological. The first thing to do is establish the purpose of this kind of design. Depending on this, it might focus on different areas: communication design, instructional design, and even game design.
As we mentioned earlier, users find the interaction between them and your product very important. If they are leaving your app having no frustrations, you did a great job. On the other hand, if they are satisfied, it means the design supported the brand’s promise, and you have managed to build trust. We need to add one more thing here: great aesthetics might attract the user by making a great first impression, but if you want to build long-term relationships, you must focus on resolving users’ needs.
Based on Jesse James Garrett`s perspective, creating user-centered design has a lot to do with some other areas, including:
This is the stage where everything is planned. A big part of resources has to be invested in the user-centered design process. Having a team in charge and the whole process divided into sprints brings good results in the user experience section.
The user part comes after establishing the working mechanisms. You have to look for user behaviors, needs, motivations, and wishes. Do this by collecting feedback and by using observation techniques.
Going through the steps that users have to take to achieve an action helps you and your team figure out how they feel about using your mobile app.
- Information Architecture
Avoiding confusion is crucial for a user-friendly app. Keep your content clear and structured!
- User Interface Design
This part is more about anticipating users’ wishes and needs and making sure the interface has elements that are easy to understand and accessible.
- Interaction Design
We have stated it earlier and it still not enough: interaction design includes UX and has the purpose of creating interactive systems that attract and keep the user excited about the stuff your app comes with.
- Visual Design
Aesthetic design should be mandatory these days. People are attracted by nice looking interfaces, colored buttons, and style. Don`t forget to be constant when working in this area.
- Content Strategy
A copy is also very important in the interaction between your app and your users. The messages should be short and clear. Nobody likes to read huge blocks of text to understand how your app is going to help him.
There`s no development without design
A lot of entrepreneurs don’t realize what design is to their product. Most of them believe it is only used for the aesthetics part. If you ask real designers, they will invoke the following argument: good design begins with the mission and the vision of the company and continues with the product architecture.
Without a clear structure you can’t develop any product. The building blocks are very important in this equation because they make the structure. They are the steps you have to take to achieve the goals. A product architecture doesn’t explain what buttons do. It shows the objects and the relationship between them. More on this, in the article The Dribbblisation of Design, which also organizes the design as follows:
Outcome – Start by defining the intended outcome. Establishing how the product that you are designing will help people is the first step.
Structure – During this phase, you will be designing the whole system. See what the requirements are, connect them to the intended outcome, and map the relationship between them.
Interaction – You will here be paying attention to the details. You will be focusing on the UI components, see how people interact with them, how the elements work together, how things change, move or animate, etc. Try this many times to fix the errors.
Visual – After making sure everything is functional, start working on the visual details! People enjoy beautiful things, color combinations, and good-looking typography, iconography, grids. Remember that users build their first impression based on visual elements.
All in all, the design is a critical stage in the development process. All the other things depend on it. Designers have a big responsibility. It`s their job to define the problem, design the solution, and explain what happens between the components in the system.
After all these things happen, building prototypes, coding, finding and eliminating errors are the next steps you should take. But, first, use design to:
- establish what does your product do for its users, how it is going to help them
- structure the system and explain the relationship between the elements of the product
- build an understandable product
- help the user to quickly complete a task
- differentiate the product on the market
- make the product aesthetic and innovative
How much time do you invest in the designing process? Can you share some insights with us?
Ilie Ghiciuc is the CTO at Thin slices. He has 11+ years of experience in IT&C and has delivered over 100 projects in varying industries, with different technologies.