App developers spend intense amounts of time and effort marketing an app to get it to sell. But if the app design doesn’t flow well, word of mouth may kill it before it gets started. There are tons of ways developers can get it wrong, but Sean Casto, founder of PreApps, notes the Top 10 design tricks that will save your app.
1. Plan it Out
Flowmaps are crucial to the success of any software. If you don’t plan before you design, you end up with a mess. Sit down and carefully draw out how the navigation of your app will flow, then keep that flowmap in front of your design team throughout the entire design process. A few of the wireframes that will greatly enhance your flowmap are JustInMind and MockUpBuilder.
2. Stay within Budget
Always allow a little breathing space when you plan your app’s budget, as development often takes longer and costs more than originally planned. Make sure you take the development budget into account and allow plenty of time for this phase of the process to be done correctly.
3. Don’t Use Blanket Design
As easy as it makes things, you can’t simply design your mobile app for one operating system and copy it to others. Android and iOS have drastically different looks and feels. Be sure your app is redesigned for each separate installation.
4. Optimize Navigation for Small Screens
If your users have to scroll side-to-side to find the navigation menus they need, your app isn’t optimized for mobile devices. Everything should be easy to find without scrolling.
5. Allow the User to Erase
Your app should include two back buttons—one for the user to backspace over text that has been typed and another that erases that text completely.
6. Stick to the Rule of Threes
There is a rule in software design that it should take no more than three clicks for a user to get where he/she needs to go. If the user can’t get to the desired location in three clicks/taps or less, that user may very well give up and go away.
7. Widen Touch Size
Consider the size of the average finger when creating the touchscreen functionality of your app. If you make the touch area too small on your buttons and other features, your user’s selections may constantly misfire, which can cause frustration and, eventually, app deletion.
8. Provide Indicator
When something is loading, your app should tell users. A blank or locked-up screen will only make users think the device is locked, causing them to exit out before they get the information they need. By including an indicator that reads “Loading…” or “Please wait while the application loads,” you can avoid losing customers.
9. Put a Test Team in Place
Beta testing is essential, but don’t open testing only to the small group of developers in your business or group of friends. Put together a small group of beta testers to try your app on a variety of platforms and provide honest feedback on your app.
10. Beware of Battery Drain
If your app drains the user’s battery, don’t think people won’t find out. Word spreads quickly in the user community and your customers will be more than happy to blast your app’s poor resource management in the app store and on other review sites.
In closing, you can never go wrong if you plan your app in advance, step by step. Be sure you test everything before deployment—it’s far better to find flaws and bugs yourself than to allow the public to discover them. Most importantly, have fun. Creating an app can be one of the most challenging and rewarding undertakings of a designer.