Putting together a high quality mobile application requires designing the UI – the way users will interact with your app.

UI design can get complex, so here are 4 tips to keep in mind when designing any mobile app, whether for iOS, Android, Blackberry or whatever else.

Tip #1. Know Your Users’ Goals

Whether they’re aware of it or not, your users have goals in using your app.

Google Maps in use

So, who are your users? What are their goals?

With a more accurate picture of your customers, you’ll be able to discover (and then satisfy) user goals.

Google Maps is a great example of this – Maps’ users aren’t just people, they’re people in a car, being distracted from the app by (ahem) the road.

Rather than asking users to make pinpoint taps, or type out a message, Google Maps enables users a full functionality of their app using only big buttons and broad strokes. Allowing users to accomplish their goals with a divided attention makes your app more valuable.

Tip #2. Build a UX Flow Map.

A crucial step to designing any mobile layout is to make a user experience flow map. A good user flow map will balance explanatory power against the vagueness or flexibility which allows the map to remain relevant after future design tweaks.

Below are some examples.

Mobile apps are an inherently visual, so these flow maps are extremely well-suited to the task of organizing the flow of a mobile app. Even if you have 90% of this in your head, it’s still worth writing a flow map, because communicating this information to the outside world is worth practicing.

iOS Flow Map

In building your flow map, be aware of the following issues:

– How will users move through the app?
– Are there any repeated user actions?
– How will you frame user decision-making?

Keep in mind, the way you pose a choice to users will have an effect on the outcome – which is why this UX work is so important.

Tip #3. Optimize Performance.

Eye-catching graphics are one thing, but if your app wastes people’s time with poor performance optimization, they won’t use your app.

For example, your optimization tweak might even be as simple as including “Loading” screens at slow-down points, but it can be an immense boost to user confidence to just see that the app is working properly, and just needs a brief moment to load.

This way, those users who might’ve closed the app, thinking it was frozen, are prevented from becoming disgruntled.

Another (more complex) way to boost performance is via Smart Loading, where different content is loaded strategically convenient times, such as above-the-fold load prioritization.

Tip #4: Determine UI Branding Signatures

These visuals tell the user they’re working with your product, not someone else’s.

Branding signatures are the unique little attributes that don’t show your logo or written name – they’re the tiny details of your app which fit and expand upon your company’s visual design pattern, which extends into all your marketing material.

Hopefully this information has been useful, and if so, please share with others who would also benefit!

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