Have you ever seen a design so bad that all you can do after is make a facepalm 🤦and say:
Source: Know Your Meme
A poor app interface design is just like that.
But while you may find the image above amusing, the same can’t be said for a lousy interface.
According to studies:
- 57% of users wouldn’t recommend a business with a bad mobile design.
- 80% of customers are willing to pay extra for a better user experience.
- 90% of users said they have stopped using an app due to poor performance.
Meanwhile, a good user interface (UI) design can increase the conversion rate by up to 200%.
In other words, the user or app interface can draw the line that separates a successful app business from one that falls flat.
So, if you’re working on a new web or mobile app, this article will arm you with the key principles of a good interface design. It’ll also provide you with some awesome examples of apps that got UI design right.
Read on to gain valuable insights and inspiration!
An app interface, also known as a user interface (UI), refers to the visual and interactive elements through which users interact with a mobile application or software program. It serves as a bridge between the user and the underlying functionality of the application.
The app interface encompasses different elements, controls, and interactive components that allow users to navigate, input data, and receive feedback from the application. It includes screens, menus, buttons, icons, text fields, sliders, checkboxes, and other graphical elements that users interact with to perform various actions within the app.
When talking about app design, user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) are often used interchangeably. However, they refer to two different aspects of the app design process.
The UI involves the app’s visual elements, including the layout, color scheme, and typography. On the other hand, UX is about how easy and intuitive it is to use a web or mobile app.
While UI and UX designs focus on different aspects, both are crucial in creating apps that satisfy the users of mobile devices.
A well-designed web or mobile app must have a UI that is pleasing to look at and a UX that is easy to navigate.
But how does one achieve that?
Let’s have a look at some principles that help designers create intuitive, visually appealing, and engaging user interfaces:
Here are some key UI design principles that will help you create remarkable experiences for your users:
The Structure Principle emphasizes the importance of organizing information and elements in a logical and hierarchical manner. By designing a clear and intuitive app structure, users can easily navigate through different sections and find what they need. Employing consistent navigation patterns, grouping related elements, and providing a well-organized layout are key aspects of implementing this principle effectively.
“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” This principle emphasizes the significance of keeping interfaces simple and reducing unnecessary complexity. By eliminating clutter and focusing on core functionality, a UI designer can enhance usability and ensure that users can accomplish tasks effortlessly.
The Visibility Principle emphasizes making important elements and features readily visible and discoverable to users. Employing visual cues, appropriate contrast, and clear labeling helps draw attention to critical actions and information. By creating an interface that guides users effortlessly, you empower them to make informed decisions and interact seamlessly with the app.
Providing users with clear and timely feedback is crucial for a positive experience. The Feedback Principle emphasizes confirming that users’ actions have been recognized and the system is responding appropriately. Visual cues, animations, progress indicators, and informative messages play a pivotal role in keeping users engaged and informed about the outcome of their interactions.
The Tolerance Principle acknowledges that users make mistakes. Designing interfaces that are forgiving and can handle errors gracefully is essential. Effective error prevention, informative error messages, and offering ways to correct or undo actions can help users recover from errors, enhancing user confidence and reducing frustration.
The Reuse Principle encourages designers to leverage existing design patterns, components, and interactions consistently throughout the app. Reusing design elements such as buttons, icons, or menus enhances familiarity and reduces the learning curve for users. Consistency in design and interaction patterns promotes efficiency, cognitive ease, and seamless experience for users.
Now that you know some fundamental concepts behind excellent user interface design, it’s time to put them into practice. Here are some practical ways to apply the above design principles to your app:
Designing a good app UI/UX involves more than just making things look pretty. Every element of the app, from the color scheme to the layout of the buttons, should be purposeful and contribute to a positive experience.
This means considering how different components will be arranged on the screen and how users will interact with them.
Content, too, must be well organized and easy to navigate. Users should be able to find the information they need quickly and without difficulty.
One great example of a mobile app that rocks an organized mobile app interface design is MyDeal, an e-commerce business and one of Appetiser’s web app partners.
To keep the UI/UX design neat, our designers organize the app’s offerings under main categories and subcategories. We kept the umbrella categories at the forefront and the details hidden behind them.
How do we know it was a great idea?
The app’s smashing success tells us it is.
MyDeal now has more than 890,000 active users, records 200% year-on-year growth, and sits above retailing giants such as Uniqlo, Asos, Wish, H&M, and Groupon.
The inspiring journey of MyDeal is the real deal when it comes to using well-designed apps for growth and future-proofing.
The best app interface is easy to navigate and doesn’t require users to think too much about how to use the app. This means keeping apps free of clutter and unnecessary features.
In our experience, adding too many bells and whistles can confuse, overwhelm, or annoy users. On the other hand, keeping UI design simple helps users spend less time figuring out how to use your app and more time using it.
To be clear, a simple and user-friendly app interface doesn’t necessarily mean it’s bare. It’s important to strike a balance between making the interface user-friendly and providing enough information to make it useful.
Just as too many interface elements can overwhelm users, having too few components can leave users feeling lost.
So, how do you know whether your design is good enough for your users?
The best course of action — and one that we always advise our web and mobile app partners — is to test your assumptions with a minimum viable product (MVP).
We challenge you to start lean and then channel your resources to elevate the app UX after getting user testing and feedback. To achieve this, you would want to see your idea come to life fast — that means starting with a functional and interactive design prototype.
While this may take some companies 12 months, Appetiser’s innovative technology can take you from design to MVP launch in as little as four months. The best part is you won’t have to break your wallet!
A complex app development normally costs around $300,000, but with a single platform with a basic UI, you can have a functional and interactive MVP for $40,000 to $60,000.
Additionally, if you have an excellently designed web or mobile app prototype, you can use it to raise funds for development. It has worked for one of our mobile app partners, Vello, so I’m confident it’ll also work for your app idea!
A brainchild of Hawthorn FC’s Ben Dixon, Vello was a pioneering social app that aimed to provide celebrities and their biggest fans a platform to connect.
To convey the true value of his idea and excite potential investors, Ben tapped our mobile app development team to build a clickable prototype design of the highest quality.
Our mobile app design has helped him raise more than $1 million and turn Vello into what it is today — a successful app with 1,000 high-profile celebrities and a fan base of over 150 million!
When designing an app user interface, it’s important to prioritize the visibility of elements crucial to UX.
This means ensuring that important components, such as core functions and features, are obvious and easily accessible.
For example, buttons that trigger primary app functions should be large and easily within reach on the home screen. Secondary functions can be hidden away in menus to avoid clutter and distracting users.
This can also help resolve the “fat finger syndrome,” a common problem and a big source of frustration among app users. Simply making sure buttons are large enough to be tapped easily and text fields are spaced far apart to avoid accidental typos can make a big difference in your app users’ experience.
Additionally, you may use highlight colors or other visual cues to call attention to important elements and make them stand out from the rest of the interface.
Take inspiration from what our app designers did for Grill’d.
To help users easily find the most important features of the food ordering app, our designers featured Home, Order, Relish, and Find Us options on the navigation bar. Everything else is featured under “More.”
They also placed the most important information users should be aware of on the banner sections of the individual pages.
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In the example above, the Home page features the special offer, while the order page features the menu — two things a food ordering app user would likely want to see.
Since Grill’d partnered with us, the app saw a 51% increase in their daily active users!
Want to know how we did it? Read Grill’d’s case study.
If you’ve ever been to a restaurant, you’ve probably noticed that your waiter will often repeat your order back to you. This may seem like a simple courtesy, but it serves an important purpose.
By repeating the order to the customer, the waiter can assure the customer that they have understood the order correctly. It also gives the customer a chance to correct any mistakes or make changes before the food is prepared.
This simple process that has been proven effective in increasing customer satisfaction also applies to app interface.
To help users feel confident that they understand how your app works, your app’s interface should provide clear and concise feedback.
Keeping users informed about the results of their actions, even seemingly insignificant or infrequent ones, also makes them feel in control. These small gestures can lead to higher user satisfaction and increased app usage.
One good example of an app that provides feedback is Food Panda.
From order submission to delivery, the online food delivery app keeps its users in the loop. It even allows users to track their delivery status via interactive elements.
Another key mobile app design principle to keep in mind is tolerance. This means that your app users should be able to complete their desired tasks even if they make small mistakes.
UI designers must anticipate where users might stumble and provide clear instructions for recovery. In our experience, this helps prevent user frustration and reduces the chances of them giving up on using your app altogether.
Here are some ways our app designers apply the tolerance principle to our projects:
- Adding confirmation messages when users are about to delete something
- Providing helpful error messages when users enter invalid data
- Adding a link to a password reset page in case users forget their password
Humans are creatures of habit. We feel most comfortable when things are familiar. This is why a consistent interface is crucial to enhancing the experience for users.
App interface designers must use similar design components throughout the app, such as color schemes, typography, and iconography.
For example, if a particular button style is used on one screen, the designer should use the same button style should be used throughout the app. This helps to create a cohesive experience and a sense of familiarity for users, making the app easier to navigate and use.
Looking for more design ideas? Here are some brands that exemplify great mobile app designs to spark inspiration for your app development project:
Source: Google Play
Instagram has a clean and visually appealing interface, with intuitive navigation, responsive design, and straightforward functionality. It emphasizes visual content and provides a seamless browsing experience.
Source: Google Design
Airbnb offers a user-friendly and visually engaging interface that simplifies the process of finding and booking accommodations. Its home screen highlights its most important features. Additionally, the app’s interface provides intuitive filters, maps, and a clear booking flow, making it easy for users to navigate and make informed decisions.
Source: Google Play
Headspace, a meditation and mindfulness app, features a calming and minimalist interface. It offers a delightful experience for users with simple icons, straightforward navigation, personalized recommendations, and soothing visuals, creating a serene atmosphere for users.
Source: Google Play
The popular music app’s interface focuses on delivering a seamless and immersive music streaming experience. It provides a clean layout, intuitive controls, and personalized recommendations, making it easy for users to find their favorite songs, create playlists, and enjoy unlimited access to great music.
Source: Google Play
Duolingo is a language-learning app with a vibrant and gamified interface. It utilizes a clean design, clear progress tracking, and interactive exercises to engage users and make language learning enjoyable and accessible.
Source: Google Play
Todoist is a task-managing app known for its clean and organized interface. It offers a simple and intuitive design, allowing users to manage tasks, set reminders, and collaborate effectively.
Source: Google Play
Slack, a team collaboration and communication app, features a clean and organized interface. It utilizes a minimalist design with intuitive navigation, customizable notifications, and a visually pleasing color palette, making it easy for users to communicate and collaborate effectively.
Source: Google Play
Google Maps provides a seamless and intuitive interface for navigating and exploring maps and different places. It offers a clean design, clear iconography, and smooth transitions.
The interface including its use of color psychology (e.g., blue color for suggested route, green for clear traffic, and red for heavy traffic) allows users to easily find directions, explore points of interest, and discover nearby businesses.
Source: Google Play
Pinterest boasts a visually appealing and intuitive interface that focuses on discovery and inspiration. The use of cards, grids, and a clear visual hierarchy makes it easy for users to browse and save content.
App user interface (UI) trends are constantly evolving to adapt to changing user expectations and technological advancements. Here are some notable trends in app UI design:
As technology advances and mobile app user expectations evolve, new UI trends emerge, shaping the future of app interfaces. These trends reflect the ongoing evolution of app UI design, driven by user preferences, technological advancements, and industry innovations.
Implementing these trends thoughtfully can help you create a modern, user-centric mobile app UI that delivers exceptional UX:
- Minimalistic design. Minimalism continues to be a UI prevalent trend. Clean and minimalistic designs with simple layouts, generous white space, and focused content help streamline the user experience and highlight essential elements.
- Microinteractions. Microinteractions are small, subtle animations or feedback that provide users with visual cues and create a more engaging experience. They add a sense of delight and interactivity to the app, such as button animations, loading spinners, or progress indicators.
- Voice User Interface (VUI). With the rise of voice assistants and smart speakers, VUI is becoming increasingly prevalent. Apps are incorporating voice interactions, allowing users to perform tasks or navigate the app using voice commands.
- Gesture-based navigation. Gesture-based navigation is gaining popularity, especially with the proliferation of edge-to-edge screens on mobile devices. Users can swipe, pinch, or perform gestures to navigate between screens or access app features, providing a more immersive and intuitive experience.
- Neumorphism: Neumorphism is a design trend that blends skeuomorphism and minimalism, creating flat design interfaces with soft, subtle shadows and highlights to mimic physical objects. It adds depth and realism to the UI, enhancing the visual appeal.
- Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR). AR and VR interfaces increasingly leverage object recognition capabilities to identify and interact with real-world objects. These technologies are being used in various domains, including selling real estates, gaming, education, shopping, and interior design.
- Biometric authentication. Features, such as fingerprint scanning and facial recognition on the login screen, are becoming increasingly common in UI. This trend enhances security and simplifies the login and authentication process for users.
In a time when businesses are won and lost through mobile presence, creating a great app design with a user-centric interface is no longer something that’s “nice to have.”
It’s imperative to success.
Keep the above key points in mind and start designing!
Taking action may not necessarily lead you to achieve the “perfect” app, but it’s the first step to getting closer to creating an app that users would love to use.
Turn your vision into a smashing UX success!
If you need help conceptualizing or implementing your app interface design, contact us. Our team of UI and UX design experts has extensive experience building mobile apps and other apps that look good and function even better.
Jane Eslabra is a Content Marketing Specialist at Appetiser Apps. She has 14+ years of experience producing traditional and digital content. When she’s not busy being a wordsmith, she’s out swimming, taking a long walk, or trying new activities that will keep her eyes away from the screen and her body moving.
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