If you think about your favourite brands, the ones that are top of their game and you interact with on a regular basis, we’d bet they all have one thing in common: great design.
There’s no denying it, design plays a crucial part in how a brand is perceived and has a huge impact on a business’s bottom line.
Investing in both visuals and user experience (UX) can prevent possible usability issues and reduce overall costs, increase conversions and SEO, improve brand reputation and customer loyalty, and help you grow your user base.
Designing an app from the ground up is a chance to tell your story on your terms and form long lasting, mutual relationships with customers. It’s that simple.
In order to successfully design your app you’ve got to deeply understand your product before you set out on the build journey.
What do people desire?
What can we build?
What will sustain a business?
When you’re able to find the balance between these key areas you’ve hit the sweet spot.
In our experience, good design is achieved from knowing the best ways to implement each feature so it makes sense from a user perspective, from knowing the technologies available and what they are capable of, and from having the ability to create something that works with people rather than against them.
Essentially, you’ve got to know the need you’re fulfilling and how you’re going to fulfil it.
Approaching design as an exercise in empathy puts the developer in the shoes of the user to create a product that genuinely serves their needs.
To empathise is to deeply understand your user. This means going beyond statistics and bullet points about your target market to get closer to what motivates and exacerbates them.
This isn’t about asking what app your user wants, it’s about gaining insight into their everyday lives and considering what product or service will actually make their life better.
Research is an important phase of any design project. Information can be gathered from various sources, including data and analytics services and online or in-person interviews with potential users.
This is an opportunity to do away with inevitable assumptions and gain a clear overview of what you’re trying to achieve and why.
This is also a chance to pivot your initial proposal if you come to see flaws in your original plan or you realise a different approach is better aligned with you and your customers.
Investing adequate time and resources to the research phase can help your project to be robust and successful.
In our opinion, user experience (UX) encompasses visual design, interaction design, quality assurance (QA), and engineering. Apps that achieve good design are apps that achieve a collaborative relationship between these core groups.
Interaction design and visual design contribute more toward the user interface of the app, while QA and engineering help to build trust and ingrain cognitive elements into the experience.
Designers alone cannot create great experiences. It requires high quality design and engineering, and all members of the product team to be working in harmony.
Each operating platform is its own world, with its own culture, language and customs. Good design requires developers who understand these different worlds and can lead you through them.
Before starting out, consider whether your app is best suited for cross-platform or native app development, as this will have an impact on the duration, cost and outcome of the build.
We’ve seen how the subtle differences matter, and while there’s a place for cross-platform development, building native apps helps you to better control details such as colour payoff and how UX behaves and responds.
How do you create a memorable experience for your users?
You establish a single source of design truth for the whole team to work from.
This includes creating a UI kit and design system including elements such as fonts, symbols, colour palette and guidelines to achieve a consistent look and feel.
It also includes a navigation framework that ensures users move through your app in a way that’s meaningful and intuitive. Establishing your design source is a chance to ask yourself what impression you want your user to be left with.
What personal touches and surprise details can take your app to the next level?
A wireframe or prototype allows you to build a ‘mockup’ for your final product to scope and test your app before you launch it to the world.
By testing your UX design, including features, designs, navigation and more, you’re able to gauge what will work, what needs to change and how much it will cost in both time and money.
Functional animation is a means of clarifying transitions, while interactive elements are a chance to add meaning and delight into the app. For example, including a unique note in the error message can stick in the user’s mind.
Regardless of your approach, these elements should be kept familiar and predictable throughout the app to create an overall lasting experience.
Great design needs great content.
With any website or app, your content and tone should be considered during the prototyping stage to make sure your design choices align with your copy choices and vice versa.
More than that, you want your copy to be both accessible and informative. Your ultimate aim here is to create a cohesive, memorable and intuitive experience.
User testing focuses on how easy it is to use your app in real time by people who haven’t seen or experienced it before.
Now’s your chance to burst the development bubble and get fresh eyes over what you’re building. You’d be surprised at how easy it is to miss an obvious flaw until usability testing comes in.
Not only can user testing show up any potential roadblocks, but it can also identify any obvious improvements.
When an app does its job well, users forget they’re using an app - no longer is it a piece of technology but a useful and intuitive service.
Minimising cognitive load refers to simplifying the interface and maximising clarity so users are only making necessary decisions and are guided through the app in an effortless way.
Your app acts as an extension of your business and the value you offer. Bringing your own personal touch and brand experience into the app helps to enhance the user experience and develop customer loyalty.
This can be done in a multitude of ways, including through the language you use, your design elements, and tie-ins with broader messaging.
We know how it can be to become attached to every design element in your app, but when push comes to shove you’ve got to be objective and keep only what’s really necessary.
Decluttering your interface keeps your app clean and crisp, so every button, image and icon serves a purpose and your users get exactly what they need without any unnecessary distractions.
A sure fire way to make your app more useful is by utilising device capabilities.
When it comes to a smartphone this includes tactile sensations, the camera, scanner, location awareness and biometric authentication.
Through using additional capabilities available to you, you can make your app a more powerful and memorable experience.
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