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Melanie Grano
February 24, 2017

How UI Design Can Make or Break Your App


Gone are the days when customers would visit stores to inquire and to buy products and services. Thanks to the internet revolution, customers are now able to visit stores virtually to view items and to purchase them from anywhere, at any time. This transformation has been expedited in part by the mobile movement. With smartphones, tablets, phablets and mobile devices, e-commerce and e-business will continue to thrive. For this reason, mobile app development will be on the rise.

The Mobile App Market

According to market intelligence and analytics company App Annie, in 2016, the mobile app market is projected to expand 24 percent to reach $51 billion in gross revenue (the amount consumers spend on mobile apps via stores) across all app stores. Growth projections indicate that by 2020, the global gross revenue across all app stores will exceed $101 billion. In addition, KPCB insights reveal that the average time spent by a user on the internet is 5.6 hours per day with mobile devices taking up 51% of this time.

The growing number of mobile users spells new revenue streams for enterprises. This means that an effective mobile app can engage the user, build traffic, build brand reputation and invariably, generate revenue. Key to engaging the user,  the app design must be able to create a fluid user experience (UX) which explores how an app looks and how the user interacts with it.  

UI Design is Key to the User Experience (UX)

As the mobile app is the gateway to an online business, first impressions count. To deliver a rich and favorable user experience, an app should come with an aesthetic, high quality, functional UI design. When an app looks good, the user tends to spend more time on it. Central to this is the choice of colors for the interface. Colors can be used to display visual hierarchy and to elevate the design while grabbing the user’s attention. When choosing colors, make sure to maintain uniformity and to keep these to a minimal. Too many colors may result in a design being gaudy. Getting the right mix of dark and light colors can be tricky and may require some trial and error.  

Also, an app should be easy to navigate. The user should be able to do what he wants to do quickly and efficiently. The simpler the process, the more appreciative the user will be. Satisfied users bring traffic, revenues and fosters customer loyalty.

A good example of intuitive interactive design is the Yelp app which is very clean, with nice, big buttons that clearly state their purpose. The buttons’ labels are easily understood by just about any user: for example, the toolbar at the bottom is a pattern in many native apps.


Make It Simple To Use

Make it easy to download and use. This seems obvious but if your app is not easy to use, then it will not be downloaded. A well designed UI involves understanding user requirements and helping users to do what they need to do with ease. An intuitive UI will enable users to do what they need to do in a few simple steps. Even a first time user should be able to open an app and to start using it without detailed instructions or guides. The interface should be easy enough for the beginner to use without boring advanced users.

Focus on clear, clean designs. When elements are placed at the right places on the interface, app visitors could easily become customers. Large ecommerce companies design mobile apps where the checkout process is minimal and hassle-free. Take for example, the Walmart App. With a simple checkout process that doesn’t frustrate users by asking for unnecessary information, Walmart is making huge conversions and reaping the benefits. Users who don’t want to register with Walmart.com can access the app as a guest and make purchases. With a guest login option, Walmart has everyone covered.


Similarly, a registration screen can have multiple signup options such as email and social network login. The Quora app follows this hybrid approach to encourage signups.


Easy to Understand and Navigate

Mobile app users come from different backgrounds which means that not all users are tech-savvy. When the UI is confusing or not easy to navigate, using the app may seem daunting and deter the user from continuing to spend time on it. If users are unable to find the information they need to do what they want to do, then there would be no reason to keep using the app. This impression may stay in users’ minds and results in negative branding for the company.

A well-designed mobile app should be easy to navigate, easy to understand and provide help wherever required. Progressive onboarding is the new strategy implemented by many companies where the user is provided with instructions as they use the app. On each screen, they are prompted with instructions to move to the next step. When an app contains complicated procedures and hidden functionalities, progressive onboarding comes to the rescue. Twitter Birdhouse App has achieved success with this approach.


Make Information Precise and Relevant

When creating an app, it is important to consider the size of the mobile screen. Smart-phones come with smaller screens, so place precise information that is relevant to the user clearly. The amount of functionality and content should be limited to user requirements. Users do not have the time to read through miscellaneous information or navigate through unwanted features. Delivering the right information in the shortest amount of time (and clicks) is critical to the app experience.

Make the interface  familiar to users. A good idea would be to choose designs and functions within the Android and iOS systems as these are familiar to users. Adopted designs drive immediate engagement.

A Good UI is Responsive

Cloud computing and virtualization technologies are enabling organizations to centrally host resources and securely publish them to any device. People connect to apps from all different types of devices. This means a mobile app has to deliver  rich and consistent UX on all form factors. A good UI design incorporates this responsive design.

Technology is constantly evolving and what is ‘hip’ today will be left behind tomorrow. A good UI design should be flexible enough to support different modular functions. By incorporating drag and drop options, app developers can change the backend structure without the need to create the app from the scratch. This flexibility facilitates continuous delivery as well.

Build Your Own App

The ‘build an app’ phenomenon is taking the world by storm, with users electing to build their own app to solve problems in real time. This has given rise to an environment where we are able to create, personalize and customize apps to help us fulfill a purpose or to network with other users. Bear in mind that when you build your app, UI Design is important because app making is not just a technology trend. It is fast becoming a way of life.

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