4 Keys to Great Mobile App Design

By Jaime Grimes | Small Business

4 Keys to Great Mobile App Design image app design4 Keys to Great Mobile App DesignWithout functional, attractive, even slightly elitist design elements behind them, Apple products might just be another set of devices. The same rings true for mobile apps – the RunMobile team knows that a successful mobile app must first be beautiful, simple, helpful and responsive.

On average, smartphone users have about 41 apps that they use on a regular basis, though 60 percent of all apps in the Apple and Google app stores have never been downloaded once. So when you create an app, you must ensure it’s different, does something useful and works properly, or you risk it being uninstalled, receiving negative reviews or not being used.

Whether you’re considering building an app to connect your mobile workforce or customize an app to address an industry-specific challenge, your mobile app must utilize the four keys to great mobile app design, listed below.


Ensure your app solves a problem or makes a task easier for the user. Some of the greatest apps on the market today didn’t do something first – they just did it better. In determining your app’s distinction, try to play to the strengths of mobile: Geo-targeting, short bursts of use and focused activity, advised Nick Watt, Senior Research and UX Manager at Reed Business Information.

Operating System Compatibility

This is a no-brainer – your app must work on the operating system, or OS, that your users use. Almost as importantly, the app should look like the device’s OS. Determine which OS your app will be built for, or that it must be built for multiple operating systems, especially if your organization utilizes a BYOD policy. Smartphone owners on different platforms and operating systems interact differently with apps, said Matt Brian, News Editor for The Next Web in an article on good mobile app design.

Layout and Flow

User interface layout and flow are arguably the most important element in good mobile app design.  Essentially, the user interface layout is the way an application flows. To get to the next page, should a button say “Go,” “Enter,” “Okay” or “Next?”

Ensure as an app designer or CIO requesting an app build that you understand the user is operating a device with a small touchscreen. This means making sure buttons have easily understandable commands, the button size accommodates all finger sizes, the app’s purpose is clear the first time it’s opened, you include a FAQ section or Help guide to anticipate any questions the user may have.

Appearance Functionality

Typically a part of the user interfaceLast but not least, an app’s appearance is crucial to its success. Apple’s own User Interface Guidelines advise to focus on clarity and depth, among other things, when designing mobile apps. Ensure fonts are readable in headers or in blocks of text, icons are precise, the focus is sharpened and clutter is nonexistent. Consider the contrast of colors and visual layers to help the user understand where their eyes should go once they’re in the app. Think of how and when the user will access the app, and even adjust lighting and hues accordingly.

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