18 Mobile App Design Best Practices

Published On: June 10, 2020
Last Updated: July 19, 2023
18 Mobile App Design Best Practices

Design is the most influential factor that can make or break a mobile app’s success. In this competitive market, there are countless apps fighting for users’ attention, and eye-catching design is crucial to retain users.

According to a survey, 83% of consumers think a seamless user experience across all devices is crucial. Statistics show that 25% of mobile apps are used only once due to bad user experience.

Efficient app design not only enhances user experience but also impacts functionality and user retention. Whether you want to launch a new app or improve an existing one, implementing effective design principles is essential to achieve your business goals.

So, in this blog, let’s understand the mobile app design best practices that help you create an amazing app.

18 Mobile App Design Best Practices

1. Examining Other’s Work

Some of the most amazing works in any industry are inspired from others. But, keep in mind that inspecting and copying are different.

A true artist always refers back to leading UI/UX works to know what they are missing and can learn from it. Inspecting someone’s work can help you to gain a better perspective of looking at your product.

“The main practice here is to scan and learn.”

For latest mobile app design trends, you can check designs on popular platforms like Dribble, Pinterest, etc.

Here, you will find a lot of things related to app design, such as UI elements, state transitions, push notifications, and much more.

Moreover, you can also download and utilize some popular apps in your category to gain a better understanding of your user’s needs.

Here, you can download and store screenshots of UI/UX that resembles your app. Later, you can make effective changes with the design to make it compatible with your app.

2. Maintain Consistent Design

You need to maintain consistency if you want to be visible in the market.

Consistency is one of the basic UI/UX principles in design that one should not avoid at any cost.

Moreover, some of the leading designers in the market refer to inconsistency as a lack of vision.

It is highly essential to maintain consistency in the entire application to reduce any chance of errors. But you may have a question, what is consistency for a mobile app design?

Here, you have to use the same layout and terminology. Let’s understand in detail:

  • Visual consistency : For retaining visual consistency, use the same buttons, icons, typefaces, and labels in the entire app.
  • Operational consistency : For retaining operational uniformity, interactive components in the app should function equally in the entire app.
  • External consistency : Your design should look the same across different products such as mobile apps, websites, or web apps for handing external uniformity.

Here, it is highly recommended to carry out a mobile app prototyping. It makes your product 50% successful if the prototype is created perfectly.

3. Efficient Onboarding Process

The main purpose of onboarding is to display users the real value of your application by showing them how they can perform different activities more smoothly and effectively.

In other words, onboarding is the first thing that a user comes across in your mobile app. If they find an issue in carrying out something at the first stance, they will not open your app the next time.

Delivering a smooth onboarding experience is the most simple principle of attracting & retaining users. As per Localytics, the user retention rate decreases to 25% after the first week of downloading the app.

On the other hand, Localytics also observed a 50% increase in retention rate when user onboarding is applied correctly.

There are mainly two types of the Onboarding process, Long Onboarding and Short Onboarding.

Pros & Cons of Long Onboarding:-

Pros Cons
Users will understand all the features. Users might get detached.
Users can access all features without any confusion. Users will skip the process without knowing the features.

Pros & Cons of Short Onboarding:-

Pros Cons
Users can skim through the features. Users will miss some crucial features.
Users don’t skip tutorials and understand features effectively. Users might get confused due to some mysterious features.

It is somewhat difficult to strike the perfect chord between first-impression with the proper onboarding. One great example of a good onboarding process is the Tinder app.

Tinder Onboarding Process

Here, Tinder has explained step-by-step to users all the things, from the login screen to find a match to start a conversation.

4. Don’t Force Users for Sign Up at First Instance

Various users love to explore apps properly before they get accustomed to it, therefore don’t include a signup board, which forces them to join first.

“Despite the fact, customer information is essential for your business, this is the most basic reason why various users quit the app.”

You should only include the sign-in screen if it is imperative. Instead, you can consist of onboarding screens, which explains the core features of the app.

Apart from this, you can also provide third-party signup options to save the user’s time.

By providing such experience, first-time users will become your permanent users.

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5. Use Standard Navigation Patterns

While designing menus, you should understand that user’s don’t have time to check all the things in the menu bar. Therefore, you must only provide some essential options in the menu bar.

Whether you are designing an app for Android or iOS, the best thing is to integrate the standard navigation patterns popular among users in the industry. For instance, navigation drawer for Android and tab bar for iOS.

Use Standard Navigation Patterns

Lastly, one important thing to remember, never use different patterns in one app, as it will confuse the users.

6. Keep User’s Perspective In Mind

You are designing the app, that’s why you can understand and access the app without any kind of issues. However, this is not the case with the regular app users.

If you are developing an app for Android, then design it considering the Android users in mind and the same thing applies for iPhone app development too.

Keep User’s Perspective in mind

Here, you can also conduct beta testing of the app to know what users think about your mobile app.

7. Use Attractive Images

Several essential things that you should keep in mind while designing an app include aspect ratio, image size & resolution, and image architecture.

In general, the aspect ratio is being decided based on the screen size of smartphones and tablets, design elements, animation effects, and many more.

Here, please note that the image size is low enough to load instantly, even in case the internet connection speed is slow. Moreover, size & resolution should be adequately managed so that the image doesn’t look vague.

Use Attractive Images

Currently, Android, as well as iOS, provide comprehensive guidelines about app interfaces, image resolution, and architecture.

8. Improve Readability

One of the most essential mobile app UI design best practices is promising that the text is clear and readable.

What is the main purpose of developing a mobile application if users are not able to read what you are providing in your app?

To avoid this, a better way is to include a text size of minimum of 12 points because text smaller than this is usually hard to interpret.

It would be best if you thought twice before integrating fonts in your mobile app. Some of the most popular fonts you can go with are Open Sans, Helvetica, Roboto, Playfair Display, and Proxima Nova.

Readability

Lastly, the most feasible and secure choice is to include classic typefaces available for platforms. This includes San Francisco for iOS and Roboto for Android.

9. Avoid Jargon Words

A clear and effective communication must be your primary focus while designing any mobile applicaiton. Use only words or phrases that your target audience is familiar with.

Avoid Jargon Words

10. Quick Reversal

For instance, while a user is entering the profile details, they commit a mistake. Then reversal of one or more data entries should be possible instantly.

In case the user has mistakenly entered the wrong number, then he/she should not be forced to enter all the details in the form again.

Quick Reversal

By providing this option, your app’s respect increases in the eyes of users. Moreover, users don’t get into stress if any wrong details are entered.

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11. Minimize User Input

Entering details on a small screen is cumbersome many times as there are more chances of mistakes. The basic thing a user does is filling up the form. Consider following things to improve this process:

  • Singup form should be short and simple. The app must ask only vital information from the user.
  • Offer Input Masks: Field masking is the best approach that allows users to format format inputted text. A mask shows users to focus on a specific field and it formats text accordingly as the field requirement. This will help to reduce any chances of errors.
Minimize User Input
  • Integrate smart features to autocomplete things in a form. For instance, entering an address is a tiring task in any registration form. Here, you can integrate tools like Place Autocomplete Address Form, this allows users to fill out the address with minimum input.
  • Validate field values instantly. In short, check field values if a user enters them correctly in the first attempt.
  • Display a tailor-made keyboard based on the need of the query. For instance, show a numeric keyword when asking to enter any number and add @ automatically when requesting for an email address.
Tailor-made keyboard

12. Make the App Speedy and Responsive

Ensure that your mobile application is swift. According to research, 48% of users uninstall an app because it is slow. This indicates that speed is the most important aspect during the designing as well as the development phase.

Even though your app is utter-fast, some features take time to process, and slow internet connection has a significant effect on the response time.

It would help if you made sure that the loading process is less irritating by showing some text content to the users as soon as it opens; this is referred to as placeholder text.

Apart from this, image sizes should be low as it takes less space on the app. The best option is to reuse the majority of resources so that code doesn’t become complex.

Here, you ensure that there is a lot of content on the screen to keep users active and other things related to content load in the background.

For instance, which screen do you prefer from screen given below:

Mobile App Design Resposive

Here, you will observe that the loading time of both the screens is the same. Despite this, the first screen creates an illusion of quick speed and responsiveness.

“This is achieved with the help of using the skeleton screen vs. normal loading screen.”

A skeleton screen is mainly an empty loading screen that shows as soon as a content is loaded. It displays how content is forming on screen rather than a boring loading icon.

13. Optimizing User Flow

Out of various mobile UX design best practices, optimizing user flow is highly essential when designing the content of your app. This thing should be performed before designing the wireframe of the app.

To provide you a simple example of optimizing your mobile app, let’s consider that you are building an on-demand food app. The final step is to select the payment method.

If you force users to perform different actions on the same screen, they might lose their interest. But, if you break the process into small parts, then the user can efficiently act.

Optimizing user flow

Above image shows an example of QIM(Quick Invoice Maker). It is developed by Guru TechnoLabs. Using this app, users can instantly generate an invoice/estimate and share with their clients.

Here, the first screen asks the user to login. Second screen asks users to enter details to generate an invoice and the third screen generates an invoice.

You can view all the screens of this app in our detailed case study on Quick Invoice Maker.

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14. Use Established Gestures

As a UI/UX designer, you must implement established gestures that people are accustomed to on their smartphones and other devices.

This includes gestures like pinching to zoom or swiping or sharing buttons that are highly popular among the users and should be implemented into the app as much as possible.

Use Established Gestures

For example, anytime the designer decides to implement the new gesture, it is essential for him/her to clear things to the user.

This new gesture can be shown during the onboarding process or when the user reaches that screen for the first time.

15. Focus on Essential Elements

While designing a mobile app, you should have a clear idea about various elements on the screen. Not all the elements on the screen are essential. Here, for delivering the best value to the user, you should focus on the most essential part on the screen.

It should take the majority of the space on the screen. Further, you can enhance this element by using different fonts, colors, and text.

For instance, consider that you are building an eCommerce app like Amazon. If a user is checking a product, then the price, dealer name, and product description should be clearly visible on the smartphone screen.

Building Significance

16. Decrease Cognitive Load

It means you have to decrease the stress on the human brain. There is limited cognitive power that a human brain invests in carrying out daily activities. If you bombard a lot of information at once, then the user gets baffled.

The most effective approach to tackle this is to reduce overloading. Here in terms of UI, it means you should not provide all things on one screen.

If you are leaving a lot of space on the screen, you should keep all the things in the center, so users don’t lose focus. Also, you can place items on vertically and keep some space among the UI elements.

17. Personalize the User Experience

Personalization is a crucial mobile app design best practices as it allows to enhance the user experience of the app. If you want to build a genuine connection with your users, then offer personalization. There are numerous ways to deliver personalization, but you should only provide what your target audience needs.

non personalised content vs personalised content

For instance, you can access their details about past searches & purchases and offer deals and discounts on products depending on their interest.

Talking about personalization, YouTube is really great at it. It shows you videos on the home page based on your interests and search history.

Here, YouTube uses Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to increase user engagement, provide better recommendations, increase ROI, etc.

If you also want to build an app that offers best personalization and helps your business to reach new heights, then you can also integrate AI & ML.

18. Remove the Clutter

Cluttering is the worst thing while designing a mobile app. It is highly crucial to remove the things that are not necessary in the app design as it will allow users to understand things efficiently.

To solve the issue of cluttering, you should apply functional minimalism, which consists of following points:

Decluttering
  • Display minimum content(show items that are useful to user)
  • Put minimum interface elements. A standard design helps users to understand things with ease. For example in the image below, the tab bar at right looks way better than its left.
  • Apply a method of progressive disclosure to provide different options. Check the image below.
Decluttering Two

Source: Ants Globe

Conclusion

A mobile app design company needs to understand the current market trends and go the extra mile to separate their app from thousands of apps available on the app store.

By having a clear goal of what you want to achieve from your app and striking a proper balance between functionality and creativity, you can create an app that stands out.

As mentioned earlier, you only have a few seconds to grab the user’s attention, making it crucial to adhere to mobile app design best practices. Through our blog, we aim to provide you with a clear understanding of these mobile app design practices.

So, apply the insights and knowledge gained from our blog to your app design process to succeed in the competitive app marketplace.

If you need further guidance, feel free to contact us. Our team is here to help you create a remarkable app that exceeds user expectations and drives business growth.

Ravi Makhija
Ravi Makhija

Ravi Makhija is an entrepreneur, an IT professional, tech geek, founder & CEO at Guru TechnoLabs - Globally Trusted Web & Mobile App Development Company. He loves writing about new technologies and the latest trends in the IT field.