The key to successful app design isn’t just down to a good idea or a good feature – it all comes down to the user experience and the user interface. Let’s face facts: it doesn’t matter how great your idea might be if the app is horrible to look at and impossible to use easily.

If you’re developing an app, one of the major things you need to get right is the way your app looks and feels. Retaining users is the name of the game and a poorly designed app will lose you many potential customers. So, where do you start?

Credits: Moose Photos

Simple but Effective

The real battle begins once you’ve managed to secure a download from a user. You’ll want a welcome screen that is inviting and a smooth transition into what the app actually does. If you need to collect information from the user, you’ll want to keep this simple and as quick as possible. The last thing people want to do when they open a new app is filling out loads of forms before they can even see if they like the app itself.

Keep your user interface simple and free of clutter. If there is a lot of information in view – especially when the user is opening the app for the first time – then the chances of them uninstalling are a lot higher. If you’re walking them through things for the first use, consider a clean interface with pop-up icons and small amounts of text.

As they work through the basics and get themselves set up, you can begin to implement slightly more complex features or walls of information (although you should always try to limit heavy reading where possible as users are often turned off by this).

Credits: Balkan Brothers

Credits: Ramotion

Minimum Viable Product

The best thing to do is release a version of the app which is very simple but easily gives off the purpose of what your app does. A mobile app developer will be able to discuss with you which features are a necessity for the launch and which can be tried and tested at a later date. The idea behind a minimum viable product, or MVP, is that users can get a feel for the app and provide you with feedback.

If they love the idea but think it needs a bit more polish then you know you’re heading in the right direction. As it’s in the MVP stage, it will definitely need some redesigning and tweaking, but you’ll have a much better idea whether users actually like your product.

Credits: Ghani Pradita

Feedback Loops

Feedback loops are where you want to focus a lot of time too. Your mobile app developer should help you by creating very intuitive ways of keeping the user hooked on your app. The way a feedback loop works is simple.

  • The user does something or makes an action within the app
  • The app lets them know if it was the right action to make
  • The user returns to make an action
  • The process is repeated

Sounds simple, right? It’s scientifically proven that the human mind works on positive and negative reinforcement. If you do something positive, more than likely you are positively rewarded in some way. That could be a physical reward or just a sense of pride or happiness. The result is that you will be much more inclined to repeat a similar action for that reward.

The same is applied to negative actions. If you’re hurt, you feel bad and as such the mind will learn to avoid whatever situation hurt you. If we apply this to mobile app development, you’ll want to create a feedback loop whereby the user is rewarded in some way, either through progression or through on-screen prompts that will let them know they did a positive action. In turn, they will keep repeating that process and thus your app will retain its user base much longer than a game which has no purpose, reward or positive actions to make.

Credits: Atlassian

Graphical Elements

Another significant aspect of a successful app as a product is one that looks amazing. You don’t want something that looks poorly designed as users will think it isn’t professional or that it’s untrustworthy.

If you have crisp, gorgeous graphics – whether that’s for a game or just menus and buttons – you’ll have a much higher chance of user retention. Don’t let a good idea go to waste with low-quality graphics!

Credits: Lana Marandina

Credits: Anton Skvortsov

There is, of course, a lot more that can be done to ensure the successful launch of an app but if you try to implement all of the above, you give yourself a head start. Start simple and design your app with the user experience in mind. You want them to enjoy using your app. You want them addicted to it. If a user starts to implement your app as part of their daily lifestyle, you are a winner.

About the author: this is the guest post by Michael Kordvani from Fueled. Ever since he was a child, Michael was captivated by technology. When the opportunity arose to spend his life writing about it, he didn’t hesitate. He now spends his time exploring and writing about prominent new technologies to introduce them to people.
Title image by Johny Vino 
Read more about mobile design best practices and use of illustrations to improve UI