7 Deadly Sins of App Design

Great App design is about simplicity, usability and an in-depth understanding about your goals and your users needs – but it’s easy to forget this in the rush of enthusiasm when you come up with The Great Idea. There are many elements that go to make up a great App design – and just as many that will ensure your Great Idea is a total flop. Here’s our view on why most apps fail…

1. Not knowing the exact purpose of your App

This sounds obvious, but if you start your bid for App domination without an end result in mind then you’re on a hiding to nothing. What’s the last thing you want your users to do when using your App? This could be any number of many things – from making a purchase, to finding a location, to catching the right train to getting a date – or simply having fun and coming back to do it all again (Candy Crush, anyone?). Your App design should be inspired and delivered from this starting point.

2. Starting without getting the flowchart down on paper

Hopping the flow-map and jumping to more mundane designing tasks without a plan is the fastest way to create a tangled flow that leaves the users confused. The number one mistake. Sure, you know what your App is about and what it’s purpose is (see above) but unless you’ve got a clear idea about how users will interact with your app, from the very first screen right through to the very last – and all the options in between – then how can you expect your users to be clear about it?

3. Not putting UX at the heart of your design

No clear path, a lack of visual clues, clutter of elements, lack of familiar and interactive elements. Poor UX is considered a cardinal sin when it comes to App design. Key elements of awesome UX are clarity; the ability for users to pick up where they left off; easily recognisable functionality; visual clues to tell users where they are in the flow; interruption only if its important (user-focus); breaking complex tasks into smaller steps; showing users what they need (ie, don’t overwhelm with information). You can find out more about UX on one of my favourite blogs here. In the meantime,the golden rules – know your user and the aims of your business, test your design and then refine based on your test results. Assume nothing.

4. Not being consistent

It can be easy to get carried away when designing an App – so much to offer, so many ways of offering! It’s usually this over-enthusiasm that can result in App clutter and inconsistency and a multitude of designed elements and functionality that can leave the user confused and unclear about what they’re doing and how to do it. The fix? Keep design elements consistent in style, use easily recognisable icons and put your CTAs where users expect them to be –every time.

5. Overloading with features

Again, the downside of over-enthusiasm and poor planning. A glut of features in your App can be confusing for users –over-delivery but not in a good way. What are the key features your audience needs? Focus on these and deliver – you can always introduce additional features further along the line, but in the first instance, keep it simple and relevant.

6. Not taking the onboarding process seriously

Great user onboarding provides a positive first impression for your App and clarity around how the App can deliver on what your users need. If you think your App is so awesome that users will thrill to the use of it no matter how you get them there, think again. Over 60% of Apps are downloaded and never used again due to a poor onboarding experience. Not every App needs onboarding, but where it does, it’s one of the hardest processes to get right.

7. Designing for multiple platforms

It might seem like a good idea to design your App for a number of platforms, afterall, your App is going to be available on Android as well as iOS, right? But any revisions you need to make post-release are going to need to be filtered across all of these platforms too, using up precious time and resources. Designing for a single platform in the first instance means you get your MVP (minimum viable product) out to the App store as quickly as you can – then you make any adjustments and deliver across the platforms in your plan.


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