How to Design Apps with Users in Mind

how to design apps with users in mind
image via depositphotos@350873012

User experience strategies have been evolving from listening to what users say they want to observe their behavior in order to understand what they actually want. Still, there isn’t universal knowledge on how to create truly user-centric experiences, which provides enough room for experiments in custom software development.

If you’re on your way to developing an app, take a look at these major tips and techniques for building a successful UX strategy.

Your target audience has all the answers

A key to developing a UX strategy is understanding your target audience’s needs and expectations. In other words, your task is to put yourself in your users’ shoes and answer the following questions:

  • How will the solution deliver value?
  • What are the best ways to deliver content?
  • Which design elements will make a difference?

In order to collect information to answer these crucial questions, you can make use of a mix of UX research methods that will let you:

  • Evaluate preferences among user groups
  • Determine the best design out of a range of options
  • Determine user behavior patterns

Card sorting

The card sorting method involves asking your users to organize items, such as key features or navigational elements, into groups and assign categories to each group. This exercise will help you see the picture of users’ mental models and preferable structures and design your application’s information architecture in a user-friendly way. For example, by grouping cards into a tree structure, users can point you toward the optimal architecture of menus and other navigational elements of your application.

Concept testing

Use rapid prototyping to create a concept that will give a rough but essential idea of the app and share it with users. It will allow you to understand whether there is any demand for such a product or service among your target audience. This method lets you test your ideas prior to deploying a finished product and guide your development in the right direction in the early project stages.

Usability testing

Usability testing can be conducted on a prototype early in the application design, or later with a completed product.

In this type of testing, you ask a group of participants to run through some scenarios of using specific product aspects. For example, in an eCommerce app, you can test if putting the total purchase amount early on the screen influences the checkout process.

mobile app usability testing
This way, you can capture key usability issues and detect the overall user satisfaction level with your product or service. Every fixed issue saves time and money for your development team and potentially increases revenue.

A/B testing

More often than not, designers have different opinions regarding the designs of a screen, menu, or a particular feature. If this is your case, A/B testing is an ideal way to solve disagreements. You can present each of the two options to a selected number of users and check which one appeals to them most.

A/B testing can be useful at different development stages, from initial research to product delivery. Every time you A/B-test two or more design options and measure the reaction of real users, you acquire more valuable insight into their expectations.

Adjust your UX strategy to the budget

If planned well, the app UI design can be done on almost any budget. If you’re not quite sure about the project budget just yet, come up with two or three options within different budget ranges. Each option will serve as a rough-cut initial UX design plan. Once you have a clearer picture, you will be able to carry on and add more details to the plan.

For example, your low-budget plan might include a limited research phase, comprising a round of informal ‘guerilla testing’ and, perhaps, a short user workshop to gather verbal feedback. With a bigger budget, your plan might include a wide range of research activities including usability testing, competitor benchmarking, and regular stakeholder interviews.

3 tips for UI design with users in mind

Amid all the content noise, users want information systems to be simple yet functional. Let’s review the major UX qualities that fulfill this goal.

Easy onboarding

The first user interaction with the app is one of the most critical moments in a user journey. To make this moment delightful and memorable, designers need to think of possible sequences of user actions and make the experience as intuitive as possible.

The best onboarding experience is where a user feels no need to consult any tutorial. Though the task is not easy, if you apply the UX research methods we’ve discussed before and make user involvement the central element of your UX design strategy, it should be possible to come close.

Minimalistic design

Flat design is a popular choice for modern applications for a good reason. Promoting only the most necessary interface elements and using basic shapes, minimalism means a good balancing of functionality and aesthetics. This approach also offers cross-device uniformity and ensures a smooth and consistent user experience.

minimalistic app designs
image via pinterest

Does this mean that there is no place for animations, lively colors, parallax scrolling, slide-outs, and pop-ups? That’s not necessarily the case. When used inconspicuously, these features can add life to the interface and user journeys. Make sure that every element of the entire experience, including aesthetics, is valuable in some way for the users — not just for the developer’s ego.

Logical user flows

To make sure your UX is based on logical pathways, make the app’s features self-explanatory and easy-to-find. Users should feel that every step is a positive and productive use of their time and effort. If you intend to use unusual patterns of navigation, make a double effort to create a rewarding, as opposed to frustrating, experience for the user.

To succeed in this task, try to follow these user-flow guidelines:

  • Avoid any features that don’t add value for the user
  • Make sure all elements are clearly labeled
  • Maintain consistent design throughout the UI
  • Use default settings
  • Personalize app functionality where possible
  • Avoid lengthy fill-in forms

Post-launch UX design

The app release doesn’t mean the end of your design activities. On the contrary, you should seek every opportunity to enhance your app’s UX. In this regard, your user experience strategy should involve end-user feedback collection and analysis.

The lifespan of your application will depend on how well you listen to your users and the steps you take to adjust the UI to their evolving priorities and expectations.

Scroll to Top