Mobile apps have grown at an astronomical rate in the past few years. According to the latest Statista report, there are approximately 2.8 million apps in the Google Play Store and 2.2 million in the Apple App Store. Phew! That’s a bunch.
New mobile app startups are coming into the scene every day, covering everything from grocery store delivery and dog walking services to fitness and, yes, even karaoke (finally!). But in such a crowded market, how does a first-time founder develop a mobile app that wows users (and investors)?
What separates successful apps from unsuccessful ones is a seamless mobile user experience or mobile UX.
Here are the five biggest mistakes you need to avoid when designing your app’s user experience.
1. FAILING TO FOCUS ON USER EXPERIENCE
The first rule of the mobile app design club: focus on user experience. Oftentimes, designers get caught up in their own realities, emphasizing their own preferences rather than focusing on the customers who will actually be using the app. We get it. Designing an app is exciting! But you have to remember that the user is the reason why you’re developing the app in the first place.
Before you rush into designing your app, you need to first understand your audience and be able to answer these questions—which may require some research:
- What features and benefits will provide the most value to your user base?
- What pain points or problems does your product solve?
- What makes your solution better than the competition?
- What sort of interface is critical for providing a great mobile user experience?
Designing your mobile app UX is an iterative process that may change over time as you research and receive customer feedback. By conducting thorough customer research and taking an iterative approach, you will better understand your users and what they need and then adapt your design accordingly. The goal is to create an experience that truly resonates with your users.
2. IOS AND ANDROID
iOS and Android each have their own design patterns that create a different experience across each platform. What might work well on the Apple iOS system for an iPhone user might be confusing for users on the Android platform.
It doesn’t necessarily mean you have to completely change the mobile app design between the two systems, but it does mean that you can’t be lazy and completely ignore these differences. It’s essential to pay attention to each platform’s interface guidelines to ensure you have the best user experience no matter which platform it’s on.
Here are some quick tips on how to do this:
- Poll your target audience to determine which devices they use most often.
- Test the app prototype on each device to see how it works on each type and display size.
- Record all frictional points.
- Optimize the UX of the application for every device.
3. DESIGNING POOR NAVIGATION
Even if you design the best onboarding experience that ever existed, it’ll be useless if your customers have difficulty finding features or navigating your app.
You should start by asking yourself: which type of navigation is most intuitive and familiar to my users?
The navigation should be smoothly integrated into the app's structure rather than drawing focus away from the content. The user should also be able to tell where they are in their user journey so that they can easily navigate to where they want to go. Lastly, always strive for consistency. Don’t move navigation controls from one screen to another! This will only confuse and disorient your users.
Helping users navigate should be a top priority for every mobile app. After all, even well-crafted features or the most compelling content is useless if people can’t find it.
4. FOLLOWING TRENDS INSTEAD OF SETTING THEM IN MOBILE UX DESIGN
This is probably the most common mistake designers make, mainly because it’s easy to imitate what others are doing. Not that there’s anything wrong with imitating what others do; I’m not going to say that I once wore blue eyeshadow and crimped my hair every day for a year because I saw Madonna do it in one of her music videos, but yes, that’s precisely what I’m saying. That being said, we also can’t just all be expected to innovate all the time. Nonetheless, there comes a time when you should be able to stand out and deliver users something unique that nobody else can offer but you.
The main challenge with this lies in identifying what that something unique is. Even experienced companies have difficulties answering this question. The best way to avoid falling into this situation requires your app to develop its own personality.
Try to avoid focusing too much on what others do and start paying attention to what your users want and what you can deliver to them that nobody else can. Before you know it, others will be trying to imitate you.
5. COMPLEX AND OVERCROWDED MOBILE APP DESIGN
When founders develop a mobile app for the first time, it can be tempting to throw in every cool feature under the sun they can think of.
Unfortunately, this rarely translates into a good user experience.
You have to remember that phones are small. There is only so much you can put on the screen before it becomes overcrowded and frustrating to the user. Unlike the obscene number of pies I end up making and eating throughout the Thanksgiving holiday, with UX design, less is actually more.
When designing your app, keep it easy peasy. Prioritize the features that are critical to a good user experience and continually refine them.
Getting your mobile app’s UX design right is necessary if you want to survive the fierce competition out there. Many apps fail to succeed, so if you're going to avoid being just another one on the list, make sure to understand what the most common mistakes are when it comes to UX. By doing so, you will connect with your users on a much deeper level, and very few things are as powerful as this.