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How to Design an App for Your Startup Brand

How to Design an App for Your Startup Brand

Do you have an excellent idea for an app? Do you want to execute and have something that will blow people away? Get ready because it’s going to be a challenging ride. Designing an app that will impress your users is no joke. But don’t worry! I’m here to help. Let me give you some tips and tricks on ensuring your app stands out in today's competitive market.

You might ask yourself, “Why should I care so much about design? It works and does what it needs to do.” Well, let me tell you, my friend, design is everything in the world of apps. It’s the first thing users notice when they open up, and if it doesn't capture their attention, then it's ‘uninstall’ time for you.

Good app design isn't just about making people think, ‘Ohh, that's nice. It’s what makes them want to keep coming back for more. A seamless user experience separates the apps we love from the ones that get forgotten within a day.

The Power of First Impressions

Dark Mode App Design Trend

Think about it: what's the first thing you notice when downloading a new app? The design, of course! And if that design is clunky, confusing, or just plain ugly, you'll probably not stick around for long. Studies show that users form an opinion about an app within 10 seconds. Yikes!

But if the design is sleek, intuitive, and visually appealing, you're much more likely to give it a chance and see what else it offers. That's why nailing the design from the get-go is so crucial.

Where to Start: The Design Process

All right, you're on board with app design being drop-dead important. So now what? The first order of business is understanding the entire design process. Here's a quick play-by-play:

  • Research and Planning: Consider opening up any design programs after completing your homework. This means researching your target audience until you know them better than they know themselves, studying your competitors like it’s life or death, and defining exactly how you want your app to work.
  • Wireframing: You’ve thought through the hard part of it all — now it’s time to start laying out the user experience physically with wireframes. These simple sketches won’t blow anyone away, but they’ll give you a blueprint for how users will interact with your app.
  • Prototyping: With some wireframes in hand, go ahead and bring that new baby to life with interactive prototypes. Don’t be afraid to adjust when something isn’t right at this stage.
  • Visual Design: Ahhhh, finally, some room for creativity. Give that little guy his look and feel by nailing down colour schemes, typography, icons… you get the point.
  • Testing and Iteration: It doesn’t matter which design path you take — hear me out here — even the best ones can benefit from a tweak or two. Test your app with actual users throughout the entire process, so each comment can be used to make improvements until your product is truly one-of-a-kind.
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Design Principles to Live By

While the design process is undeniably important, there are also a few fundamental tenets that you should keep in mind as you craft your app. These principles will help guarantee that your app looks beautiful, operates well and is user-friendly.

1. Simplicity Works

The saying goes: simplicity is ultimate sophistication. This couldn't be truer when it comes to designing apps. The best apps can be easily understood and navigated through without unnecessary frills.

However, this simplicity often ends up being easier said than done. It’s interesting how we always want to include every feature under the sun in our app, but this only leads to its users feeling overwhelmed due to information overload. Instead of drowning your audience with features and functionalities, you should go for the core features that matter the most and legibly present them.

Below are some tips on simple things:

  • Minimalist aesthetics: Avoid cluttering the interface with redundant visual elements that may detract from an application's primary intent.
  • Clear, concise language: Don’t make your victims struggle with complex jargon or instructions by keeping your write-ups easy to read.
  • Straighten navigation: Users should not face difficulties finding their target destinations amidst an ocean of menus and screens.

Just think about making your app feel like second nature – something people do without thinking twice – rather than trying to impress with fancy tricks!

2. Consistency Makes All The Difference

Have you ever used an application where buttons were different on each screen or screen navigation was all messed up? Confusing, isn’t it? That’s what you need to avoid with your app design.

Consistency is vital in app design because it establishes user familiarity and predictability. When they know what they expect from an application and how they should interact with it, most people will be likelier to use it, thereby increasing their lifetime value (LTV).

Consider the following suggestions to keep your app consistent:

  • Set up a well-defined design system: Create guidelines that cover typography, colour schemes, icons, and UI elements. In addition, ensure these principles are consistently implemented throughout. This includes every screen and feature.
  • Adopt tried-and-true patterns: Don’t start everything from scratch regarding common UI behaviours or gestures. Go with what users have got used to (e.g., swiping to navigate, using a hamburger menu for more options, etc.).
  • Maintain continuity of appearance: You can sometimes make some sections or features unique, though all must give the same impression.

Consistency will ultimately result in a polished and professional-looking application that is coherent rather than random in its design elements.

3. Make It Fun with Microinteractions

You’ve got the basics down – simplicity and consistency are essential. But did you know there’s another level of app design that can genuinely wow your users? Introducing microinteractions.

Microinteractions refer to those enjoyable moments after performing specific actions within an application. They often constitute tiny animations, sounds or visual cues that provide feedback, making UX feel more alive and intuitive.

If, for instance, you have a note-taking app, every time you tick off a task, the checkbox will animate while also making a satisfying sound of “Ding!” What about a weather app that subtly animates the sun or clouds according to the prevailing conditions? Though these tiny details may be inconsequential, they go a long way in determining how your users perceive and enjoy your software.

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Here are some handy tips on perfecting those delightful microinteractions:

  • Keep them low-key and place-dependent: Microinteractions need not overshadow user experience. Ensure their appropriateness and relevance to the action they correspond to.
  • Use them sparingly: Too many can make one feel overwhelmed and gimmicky. Select your moments wisely and use them with tact.
  • Consider timing and feedback: These interactions should occur immediately after the user has taken action, making them receive an instant response and sense of a cause/effect relationship.

Well executed, these little touches can make an otherwise dull app unforgettable.

Design for Your Users, Not Yourself

Strava App Engagement Guide

One of the significant missteps you can make while making an app is being too consumed by your preferences and prejudices. Indeed, a neon green colour palette or some over-the-top animation might be so cool, but if it doesn’t resonate with your target audience, then it’s essentially useless.

That is why creating an application with users in mind is very critical, not just your taste. But how exactly do you do that? Well, it all starts with understanding your audience.

Know Your Users

Before you even think about sketching wireframes or mocking up designs, you need to take a moment to know who your users are, what they want and how they feel. This implies carrying out in-depth research and building elaborate user personas.

User personas are imaginary descriptions of ideal end-users based on actual data and insights. They should include demographics, behaviours, goals, pain points and preferences. Creating these personas helps one put oneself in the shoes of their users, thus designing an app which genuinely satisfies their requirements.

Test, Test, and Test Some More

Your job isn’t done just by researching and creating a user persona. You need to do the testing continually with actual users as your app progresses in development.

There are many ways to test users, from a simple wireframe example to an entire usability study. The critical factor here is watching how people interact with it first-hand and getting honest feedback.

When hearing this feedback, be bold in what they have to say. It is all valuable, but negative feedback is especially significant. This helps you see areas that need improvement or look over again and directs you where to go next.

Based on the insights from user testing, adjustments might be needed for your app’s overall flow or navigation design. Even though these changes might be required at multiple points in development, it will be one hundred per cent worth it later on when your actual users use it—knowing that they won’t get frustrated or annoyed because something doesn’t work right.

The Importance of Accessibility

It’s straightforward to get so preoccupied with aesthetics that you overlook one critical thing when you’re deep in the trenches of app design: accessibility. Nevertheless, building an app that is truly inclusive and accessible to everyone, disability or not, goes beyond being the right path to take but also makes good business sense.

Making your app accessible opens it up to more potential users and shows that you appreciate diversity and inclusivity. Moreover, in some places, there are regulations related to accessibility that must be adhered to.

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So, what does making an app accessible mean? Here are some points to consider:

  • Colour contrast: Make enough contrast between text and background colours for visually impaired users to read content easily.
  • Touchable areas: Create buttons, icons, and other interactive elements large enough for those with motor disabilities to tap or select easily.
  • Text alternatives: Audio and visual content should have textual equivalents, such as captions or transcripts for people who cannot hear or see.
  • Navigation: Provide intuitive keyboard-friendly navigation that does not depend strictly on mouse clicks or touch actions.

When creating an accessible mobile application, remember these pointers from the beginning; they’ll help your customers enjoy a better experience irrespective of their needs while keeping your app compliant with future evolving standards.

Designing for Different Platforms

Invision Mobile App Design Tool

Your application will likely need to perform seamlessly on multiple platforms and screens in today’s various devices. From smartphones, tablets, desktops, and even smartwatches, your users can expect the same optimised experience at any access point.

This is where responsive design comes into play. Responsive design refers to a flexible user interface that automatically adjusts and resizes according to the device and screen size used by a user.

But when you’re designing responsively, it’s not just about resizing elements to fit different screens. It involves rethinking the user's experience, specifically optimising it for each platform.

For instance, some features or interactions that work well on a big desktop screen may need to be more practical on a smaller mobile. In these cases, you might need to simplify or restructure the experience to suit such platform constraints and capabilities better.

Here are some tips for successful, responsive app designs:

  • Begin with mobile: Designers often advise starting with a “mobile-first” approach, whereby you should build an app for the most petite screen sizes before moving to bigger ones. This ensures that there is more focus on your app's primary function.
  • Expect various input methods: Consider how people use your app across different devices. Touch gestures, styluses, keyboards, or voice commands could be involved.
  • Consider the context: How people use your app can change depending on their device and surrounding environment. For instance, someone accessing your app from his smartwatch may want information at a glance rather than deep engagement.

When you have considered all of these factors from the beginning – i.e., multiple platforms and screen sizes – you produce cohesive experiences that are friendly towards users while being seamless across devices.

Beyond the Pixels: Designing for Performance

When designing an app, the visual aspects are easy to get hung up on—colours, typography, and the general aesthetic. However, another critical aspect of this that goes unnoticed most of the time is performance.

A well-designed app that is slow or prone to crashing is practically useless. Poor performance leads to frustrated users and high abandonment rates that overshadow your beautiful application.

So, how do you design for optimal performance? Here are a few key strategies:

1. Prioritise Load Times

Users in our fast-paced world expect apps to load instantly. Even a slight delay can make them hop off. As a rule of thumb, the target load time should be under 2 seconds; any longer than this, you lose a substantial portion of your user base.

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To ensure speedy load times, you will need to optimise your code, assets (e.g., images or videos) and overall architecture for the app. This may involve techniques like code minification, lazy loading and caching.

2. Reduce Data Usage

Most of your users could be on mobile devices with limited data plans or poor network connections. Creating an app that is greedy for data or must always have an internet connection can alienate much of your audience.

Strive where possible to minimise your app’s data usage by optimising file sizes, implementing offline functionality, and choosing wisely when and what kind of data you request from servers or external sources.

3. Limit Battery Use

Nothing kills enthusiasm for an app quicker than running out its host device’s battery quickly as if drained. If you have an app notorious for being hard on batteries, it will likely not remain installed long enough.

Battery life can be saved by managing how much power-hungry features such as GPS, Bluetooth, and background processes consume using the App. Consider also implementing battery optimisation methods like reduced animation speeds, dimming interfaces when the application is idle, and lowering screen brightness.

By prioritising performance such as load times, data usage and battery optimisation, you will create an app that looks good and runs smoothly and efficiently – a perfect mix for satisfying the user and improving their loyalty.

Bringing It All Together

Why Your App Needs A Website Design

Whew, that was a ton of information to take in, right? Designing apps is quite the feat. It demands deep knowledge of design principles, user needs and technical considerations.

As you embark on your app design journey, remember to:

  • Don’t overcomplicate it: Stick to what you know already works and keep things simple.
  • Pay attention to little details: Those little animations go a long way in making your app memorable.
  • Put yourself in others’ shoes: Understand who your users are and keep them in mind when designing the app.
  • Ensure everyone can use it: Be mindful of those with disabilities or impairments and ensure they can have a great experience.
  • Make it multi-platform friendly: People use many devices, so be sure your app works well across various platforms and screen sizes.
  • Don’t let performance fall by the wayside: A hiccuping app might make people delete it, no matter how cool-looking it is.

If you closely follow these principles and best practices, you’ll be well on your way to creating a fantastic app. Maybe even one that’s the next big thing.

How to Design an App for Your Startup FAQs

What’s so essential about app design for startups?

Well, it can help you stand out in a crowded market. It can also make a great first impression with users and reinforce your brand identity. Overall, good design will lead to a better user experience, which leads to better engagement and retention.

Where do I start when defining my app’s design style?

What are some core principles of good app design that I should follow?

Make sure that it focuses on usability. Ensure that navigation is intuitive, and the information hierarchy is clear. Last but not least– prioritise content over decorative elements. Simplicity goes a long way.

How can I make my app stand out visually?

Incorporating custom illustrations, unique icons– and even animated micro-interactions will take your visuals to new heights. Just be wary of sacrificing usability for pure visual flair.

Should I prioritise native or web app design?

Native apps offer consumers the best user experience while using all capabilities from their devices. Web apps work best for internal tools or limited cases within mobile use cases themselves.

How should I account for different screen sizes and devices during design?

Ensure your UI is designed with responsiveness to adapt across different screen dimensions without losing quality to images or text size.

What role does interaction play when designing an application?

Little things such as animations, gestures, haptic feedback and touch targets affect how users perceive and engage with the core functionality of your application itself. Imaginative interaction designs are important because they reinforce intended user experiences.

How do I ensure accessibility in my app’s design?

Ensure sufficient contrast between colours used on text and background through accessibility guidelines. Make sure the text size is scalable and in logical focus order. Provide alt-text descriptions alongside customisable settings to allow users with disabilities full access to your user interface.

How do I localise my app’s design for a global market?

Design the UI in a way that it can expand text and right-to-left layouts. Avoid cultural assumptions when formatting colours, icons, and date/time and address entry flexibility.

What kind of resources should I use while designing an application?

You’ll want to have popular prototyping tools like Figma, Adobe XD, InVision, and Marvel at hand. Zeplin and Avocode will help with developer handoffs while already having design systems and UI kits ready, saving you some time.

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Stuart Crawford

Stuart Crawford is an award-winning creative director and brand strategist with over 15 years of experience building memorable and influential brands. As Creative Director at Inkbot Design, a leading branding agency, Stuart oversees all creative projects and ensures each client receives a customised brand strategy and visual identity.

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