How does great design help to achieve mobile startup success?

What are mobile app success factors? When looking for answers on the Internet, you may encounter numerous opinions that the great idea is a decisive part. After all, the best-known mobile applications such as Facebook or Uber are based on the ideas so powerful that they changed the way we communicate and travel.

However, the idea is not enough to achieve a success in the mobile world. It’s just like with books – you don’t expect that your plot idea alone will make you rich, you have to actually write the book first. And like with any applied arts – the mobile app you create has to be both useful and pretty. That’s where the app design comes.

Knowing that app design is extremely important in the development process, we asked some design experts with different backgrounds – from startups developing their apps to design teachers and other companies – one question: How can great design help to achieve mobile startup success? Check what their insights and tips are.

WHY IS DESIGN IMPORTANT?

You may say that mobile applications are created by programmers. But it is only partly true. In the world when millions of apps exist in app stores, the design is getting more and more distinguishing factor as users prefer good-looking and easy-to-use apps to those that have their value hidden below a discouraging UI.

Great design enables great experiences. Having an app that is created keeping the needs of the end-user in mind allows for a complete overall experience.

- Raido Dsilna, CEO of Wazombi Labs

This comment sums up the general reason why UI and UX are important in creating an app but more specifically, Emma Stokes, Graphic Design Teacher at Shillington, notices two reasons that make design important for an app’s success: “The first is allowing the user to get into the app and then helping them to understand how the app works, intuitively. The second is that design is the key to setting your app aside from the competition – without some sort of visual design being applied to a good user experience you have no way to get people hooked on your product which enviably will mean they will forget about it. You need use design to enhance the experience to make it make more delightful.”

What really counts then is making the UX seamless, intuitive, and outstanding in some way.

THE DESIGN PROCESS

So what can you do to design a good-looking mobile application? „The design process is no different to that which you would apply to any other design challenge. You think about what the user needs, you balance that with the business/startup needs and you take into account any learned patterns of behaviour,” summarizes Ben Longden, Graphic Design Teacher at Shillington.

The whole process begins with the planning stage. Konstantin Afanasiev, Head of UX/UI at Exscudo, recalls creating the Excudo app: „Designer begins with requirements gathering: technical and user restrictions, system functionality limitations and so on. Besides technical limitations connected to programming there are also such ones as maximum length of symbols during entering the digits, user’s first and last name, phone number and so so for.”
 
Such requirements include, above all, UI guidelines:

It is critical to adhere to the multiple guidelines app user interfaces. The guidelines vary version to version on which your app will appear, and for this you must include alternate resources to suffice multiple guidelines. Everything from icons to widgets to menus and activities.

- Brad M. Shaw, President and CEO of Dallas Web Design Inc.

What’s more, you should keep in mind the devices you are designing for. “Note that user interface should be designed in such a manner that the app is fully usable on multiple devices and mobile operating systems. Be it tweaking the media queries, JavaScript or CSS- all the issues related to the display of the app on multiple mobile devices must be catered responsibly,” advises Brad M. Shaw, President and CEO of Dallas Web Design Inc.

OK, so you’re done with the design idea. What to do next? “Start with paper and come up with a concept, whether that’s a visual concept or a concept around interactions, then you map it out across all the screens using wireframes and prototyping tools,” advices Ben Longden.

„After that, comes the design itself. The prototype is painted by, and you apply all your ideas to it – styles, colors and so on. Then goes the primary user testing,” explains Konstantin Afanasiev.

“The final step was getting the feedback from the actual users through clickable mockups. After the first marathon, where the app was used, we collected additional user data to further improve the overall experience,” sums up Raido Dsilna.

FACING CHALLENGES

With the help of an experienced UI/UX Designer, the app design process shouldn’t be difficult to complete. But as with any project, you may encounter challenges. What should you pay attention to?
 

  • Usability
     

    The biggest challenge is when you are completely left to yourself and have to make sure that application is convenient for the users and at the same time fit all the requirements. In other words, to think how to make a prototype usable.

    - Konstantin Afanasiev, Head of UX/UI at Exscudo

  • Simplicity and structure
     
    “The biggest challenge was to understand and therefore design the app to be simple and intuitive to use even for those whose English might not be so polished. Creating the app to be used for multiple events for the series (Skiing, running, biking etc) without creating separate apps for each event. All that while not sacrificing in user experience and the usability of the app.”

    – Raido Dsilna, Wazombi Labs
  •  

  • Designing for different platforms
     
    “Often the biggest challenge is being able to take it from design to development due to the different platforms, Android and iOS are very different so essentially you have to build the app twice and so working with two sets of developers two sets of feedback prototyping and bug tracking. To make the process easier it’s always best to work collaboratively from the outset. Bring the developers on the journey to so they are there to give you pointers on how they can develop a design/user experience idea in code so you aren’t just chucking a design on a developers desk and expecting them to just know what you want them to build.”

    – Emma Stokes, Shillington

GETTING USERS FEEDBACK

OK, so you have your app ready – up and running in app stores. But how can you know that your design is the element that makes your product successful? After all, the design is an integral part of an app and it is extremely hard to tell whether it is UI/UX that help your app or anything else. But don’t worry – there are some good ways to measure your design impact.

The only way you will ever really know if people are encouraged by the design of an app is continuing growth of download numbers on the app stores any reviews those users leave and focus test user groups to gain further insights.

- Ben Longden, Graphic Design Teacher at Shillington

The first two are quite easy to measure. However, they don’t give the exact data as the number of downloads can be an effect of the great app idea itself, not the design. And if your design is average – good and useful but not outstanding – your app users may like it but don’t feel the need to praise it in their reviews – and you will never know that before you ask.

That’s why Raido Dsilna emphasizes the importance of focus groups: “We ran focus groups with the supporters of the app idea who were also regular participants in the marathons. We also included some people right off the track of the first event to further improve the experience for the next marathons in the series.”

As you can see, measuring users opinion, both before and after the release is extremely important and gives you tons of information to improve the app. And don’t worry – even if you don’t have enough money to conduct professional focus groups, you can still ask some friends and people on the Internet for their opinions – as long as they are within your app’s target group.

10 RULES OF GOOD APP DESIGN

So, to conclude, what makes the app design good? Here’s the quick checklist of features, suggested by our experts.
 
1. Users first – think like the users, ask and do research to know them better.
 
2. Purposeful design – using design to achieve certain goals.
 
3. Focusing on one main thing – and doing it well.
 
4. Simplicity – don’t overload the design, make it simple.
 
5. Usability – the purpose of good design is making the app easy to use, not only pretty.
 
6. Speed – design should enable users to get to any part of the app quickly.
 
7. Stay consistent – use one main theme throughout the app.
 
8. Following the platform’s UI guidelines.
 
9. Adjusting app design to multiple devices.
 
10. User feedback – listen to your users, they are the only ones who know what they want.

KEY TAKEAWAY

As you can see, app design is a complex and difficult process. It is also one of the most important phases of app development as the design is what your users will see on their screens – and on which their pleasant or horrible experience is based. That’s why it is wise to focus on the design phase in your app development and prepare everything down to the finest detail.

 

 
Fortunatelly, our team of experienced UI/UX Designers can help your app to achieve succes. If you are interested in their projects, have a look on Ready4S portfolio and judge their work yourself.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Our set of tips wouldn’t be so full without the cooperation of our great contributors. Here are they, in the alphabetical order:
 
ShillingtonBen Longden, Graphic Design Teacher at Shillington
 
 
Dallas Website DesignBrad M. Shaw, President and CEO of Dallas Web Design Inc.
 
 
ShillingtonEmma Stokes, Graphic Design Teacher at Shillington
 
 
ExscudoKonstantin Afanasiev, Head of UX/UI at Exscudo
 
 
WazombiRaido Dsilna, CEO of Wazombi Labs
 

Katarzyna Lorenc
Marketing Specialist

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