There are over 1.4 million apps each in Apple App Store and Google Play Store, and only a handful of app categories these apps are categorized under.
With so many apps to compete with, it’s important to create a strong visual user interface that is simple, compelling and unique in order to stand out in the competitive market.
The first interaction of the user with the app is the home screen of the app. An attractive home screen entices users to experience more of the app. The attractiveness of the home screen isn’t only in its visual design, but also in terms of how easy and functional it is to get the job done. This can significantly improve your app’s engagement levels as well.
Let’s look at 6 factors that will help you create visually appealing apps to attract, retain and engage your app’s users.
#1 – Understand Your Customers
It is important to understand who your customers are and how they consume content. During the ideation process of building an app, target customers should be defined in detail and with as much granularity as possible. (If you haven’t done that yet, you probably need to read this.)
Many mistakenly assume their own preferences and skills as representative of those of the user. That is not true, unless you’re the target audience yourself. There is a significant difference between how apps are consumed by men versus women; by young versus the old.
For example, if your app’s target users are women, you’d probably want to design the app with softer colors and easy navigation and flow. Women prefer pink versus men who prefer blue – colors play an important role and tend to drive emotions too!
Keep such insights about your target audience in mind while creating the visual experience of the app.
#2 – Define The User Experience
Design is not just how something looks, but how it works.
User experience is the key building block of a successful app. Once the users land on your app’s home screen, you need to lead them to specific sequences of actions to accomplish the required tasks. A good mobile user experience comes from a deeper insight into user behaviour and an understanding of how to make their life simpler by using your app.
Complicated features and user flow are a big no no. Constantly work at narrowing down the learning curve for the first-time user of your mobile app.
User experience design isn’t a prerogative of the designer, but that of the engineering as well as the marketing team. User experience not only includes design, but has to factor in the experience from the product-engineering point of view and that of the marketing – messaging and customer insights.
If you’re building a recipe app, surveys suggest that men tend to look at simpler recipes that take less time to read and prepare and on the other hand, women are more confident of their abilities in the kitchen and so they tend to look at more elaborate recipes.
#3 – Colors Drive Emotions
Ever noticed why hospital rooms and public spaces are typically bathed in pale blue or light green colors or why only the color red is used to mark alert signs on road?
It’s because colors drive emotions. Pale blue and light green have a soothing effect on eyes while the red color has a sense of urgency and can actually raise people’s pulse rates.
Colors play a fairly significant role in branding and influencing the purchase decisions of customers. Almost 85% of consumers cite color as the primary reason they buy a particular product, and 80% of people believe color increases brand recognition.
In a study called Impact of Color in Marketing, researchers found that up to 90% of snap judgments made about products can be based on color alone (depending on the product).
It has been proven that colors convey messages, evoke emotions, and add brilliance to everyday things. People have different perceptions about colors, but there is definitely a science behind picking specific colors for design.
According to scientific research, Yellow is psychologically the happiest color. Orange is a color that stands for optimism. Red color is for energy, action and can actually raise people’s pulse rates when they look at it. Green conveys the idea of growth. Blue conveys feelings of trust, honesty, and intelligence.
Colors are used to convey messages & evoke emotion in all sorts of everyday situations.
#4 – Brand Perceptions
It simply doesn’t matter what you think about your brand. What matters is what customers think of your brand, particularly your target audience.
The first step is to determine how you want your users to perceive your brand. This isn’t a guessing game. You need to do research to determine what users want and need, and then build a branding strategy that makes consumers perceive your brand as the one to meet those needs.
An app’s design can influence the perception of the brand. For instance, are you designing for premiumness or are you designing for an app to be perceived as functional. Both perceptions will have completely different approach to visual design. Think Louis Vuitton versus Espirt versus Guess bag brands.
#5 – Design For Platforms
Each mobile app platform or operating system has its own navigation and user flow styles. While designing apps for various platforms you need to consider the design guidelines for each platform. The basic mobile user interface for iOS and Android differs largely – the iPhone or iPad don’t have a back button while users are used to tapping the back button on an Android device.
Similarly also consider the different screen sizes across devices, retina support, icon sizes and touch gestures. While adapting designs for iOS can be easier with a limited number of devices, Android can be quite challenging with over 400 different types of devices that the design needs to be adapted for.
Herein too, understanding who your customers are and the type of devices they would use could help you design only for that specific set of devices.
#6 – Stay Current
With each new successful app, the bar on design goes up a notch. Apps are constantly innovating in terms of navigation and user flow handling within the app. The Path app created a whole new way to create the menu that was animated to pop-up and back in.
The menu itself has come a long way over the years. Starting with the flat menu bar at the bottom, apps such as Path and others have experimented in other ways to represent the menu – often making them the new standards. Such as the slider menu that slides in from the left to right and doesn’t occupy real estate on the home screen of the app.
Sometimes, even the platform can help guide you in a specific direction. For instance, what iOS 7 did with flat design – it set off a trend in flat mobile app design.
Look at some of the most popular apps across categories for inspiration on where the market is moving to. These trends also govern user behaviour so launching a bottom bar menu in today’s age may not be the best idea.
This guest post was written by Nidhi Shah.
Nidhi crafts content at Arkenea LLC, a mobile app design and development consultancy helping entrepreneurs and businesses take their idea through execution. She is passionate about writing on building, marketing, and scaling mobile-first startups.