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4 Keys to Intuitive Mobile App Design

21st November 2016

4 Keys to Intuitive Mobile App Design

Today’s mobile device users expect ease of operation without reading a word of documentation. Whether your targeted audience is for a 10 year old brat who thinks he knows more about mobile apps then you or your 65 year old techie who has seen it all, they expect to be able to open the app and know immediately what to do and how to do it. That’s called intuitive mobile app design, and it’s essential for a successful app.

If you make your users pause too often to try to figure out how to work something, and the only thing they’ll be figuring out is how to delete your app and get another one with a simpler user interface (UI). Here are some points for creating an intuitive app interface.

1. Don’t Make Users Guess How to Use Your Features

Stick with the standard easily recognized icons and navigation symbols. Otherwise, users just get frustrated.

Some app designers want to be different or get cute. They try to put a “new spin” on the “old navigation”. The problem with that is, users are quickly scanning the app for visual clues on how to navigate. If you make it hard for them to find your features and in-app content, they won’t bother looking too long. They’ll just get rid of your app and download your competitor’s app instead. Make it simple and intuitive to find common navigation symbols and indicators by sticking to the standard, easily-recognized in-app icons.

2. A Little Less is Way More

Another common mistake is packing too much clutter in the mobile app design. A busy app is hard to read and even harder to use. Avoid cluttered pages, crowded navigation icons, too many fonts, too many colors, and other design elements that make the app look too busy. In fact, the first release of your app should be rather basic. Add features and functionality as user feedback indicates they want those things. This keeps your app simplistically elegant with a clean, minimalist mobile app design.

3. Be Smart About Touch-Targets

Make it easy for users to see in all lighting conditions and make it simple for tapping on call-to-actions (CTAs), even if they’re shaken up from an emotional event. Consider all the various conditions your users will be in when they interact with your mobile app design.

Some people have wider fingers than others. If X’s for closing out a page or other navigation elements are too small or too close together, it can be extremely difficult for users with wider fingers to navigate through the app. Also, be considerate of those with shaky fingers (such as someone right after a traumatic event, like a car accident), or nervous and muscular conditions that make precise muscle control difficult. Make clickable elements large enough to hit easily and far enough apart so users aren’t always accidentally hitting the wrong one by mistake.

4. Strive for Ease of Readability

As with touch-targets, you need to design the readability of an app for people varying conditions. For example, is your app easy to read if the screen brightness is turned down? How well can they see it during the bright daytime? Realize that about 20 percent of the population has language disabilities that make it hard to read, including conditions like dyslexia. A clean interface, avoiding overly decorative fonts, and keeping screen colors to a minimum (no more than two or three colors) helps everyone read your app content more easily. Additionally, it’s much easier to read when text is dark and the background is light — such as black text on a white background or blue text on a yellow background. Reverse type — when the text is lighter than the background — is much harder on the eyes. Combined with an overly-artsy font, it can make your app content next to impossible for some people to read.


Squareball Studios (SBS), is a creative, design, and development agency of mobile applications and software systems. SBS has helped develop solutions for Fortune 500 companies and partnering with startups on initial ideas and seeing them succeed.

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