As users continue to put down their laptops and desktops and flock to mobile devices, marketers are left with a unique challenge. They must package products and services in a way that is easy to understand on the device held in the palm of the consumer’s hand. In many cases, a mobile application is the answer. However, not all apps are created equal.
Here are 9 mobile design mistakes that, if avoided, can help your app be truly useful to your consumer.
1. Poor Planning
Spending hours agonizing over the title screen is going to do little more than infuriate your designer. Think of your desired end result first. What would you like the last action your consumer takes before he/she closes your app to be? Is it request a quote, make a purchase, enter an e-mail etc.? Once you’ve decided what your goal is, all of your design efforts should hinge around that goal. Every menu and button should be designed to drive your end action.
2. Ignore the KISS Model
No offense to the techy grannies out there, but chances are your grandparents aren’t the most tech savvy and that’s why the user experience of your design should be created with them in mind. Details like button and font size can dramatically impact how useable your app is. Keep the classic KISS model in your mind and Keep It Simple Stupid! You may not need a rotating logo on your start screen. In fact, it may make more sense to downsize your logo in favor of more detailed login instructions. Often times the most trivial details are the details that are most loved or hated by users.
3. Don’t Build For the Future
Iteration is huge for mobile applications. It is pivotal that you plan for how your app will evolve. A design roadmap can help keep the general look and feel the same across iterations. Spend some time thinking about how functional changes should be portrayed visually. If you’re following rule number two, these changes should be relatively small, but have a big impact on ease of use or end product.
4. Think Ergonomically
Take out your cell phone. Chances are, you are holding it in one hand using your other hand to navigate. Think about this when designing your app. Making buttons too far to one side of the app or too low or high can cause strain on a user’s hand an in the end cause them to stop using your app.
5. Don’t Address Scrolling
As a rule, users hate scrolling. Your design should reflect that. Keep your main functionality concise. Once a scroll bar appears you risk losing the fickle attention of your user. Maintaining a focus on actions can help cut down the clutter. Focus on what you want them to do. Not what you want to say.
6. Overlook Sharing Aspect
Ideally, you’d like your users to share your app with friends, family, colleagues — you get the point. Design it that way. Sharing icons for social media and e-mail are must haves at this point, but I recommend going a step further. Allow new users to use the app without any kind of sign in. Guest mode as it’s often referred to is a great way to show off your app without making users feel like they’ve committed to anything. Once you’ve got them hooked you can start messaging premium “Members Only” functionality that will encourage them to sign up or sign in.
7. Skimp On Security
Your user’s info is even more valuable to them than it is to you. Protect it. One security slip can be the downfall of your entire project. We see data breaches every day in the headlines. Don’t be one of them. Spend more time than you think is necessary on security.
8. Fail to Properly Test
No doubt you’ll be excited to launch your app, but glitches and crashes can be a real buzzkill. Take the time to test across many devices and operating systems. The ghost in the machine can be lurking around every corner, so it’s your job to exorcise it.
9. Miss In-App Engagement Opportunities
Is it shameless? Sure, but promoting interesting features within your app is sometimes the only way users discover the most useful parts. We all know tutorials are about as well received as socks on Christmas, so teach them while they’re using the app and without interrupting. They’ll think they discovered it themselves and that’s even better than you telling them where it is.
These tips should help you make sure that your app doesn’t end up in internet purgatory.
Francis Santos is the Marketing Manager for Benchmark Email. He graduated from Cal State Long Beach and holds a degree in Journalism. In addition, he is also the executive editor for separate popular news blogs. Follow him on Twitter.