11 Design Tips From the Masters of Mobile App UX

User experience design is directly connected to the quality of your app. When it comes to retention, the core app is just as important as messaging campaigns — users must love the in-app experience or they’ll churn.

Because UX design is such a significant concern for mobile app teams, we reached out to experts from around the industry to hear their thoughts on this question: What’s your #1 tip for designing a great mobile app?

Read on to learn how today’s mobile leaders are designing great app experiences, and how you can follow in their footsteps.

1. Be ruthless with feature creep Nothing is more confusing for new users than an app that has too much going on, so you need to constantly prioritize what’s important and trim those nice-to-have features. Know what the core purpose of your app is and focus on making that experience simple, intuitive, and amazing.” — Bill Wilson, Founder at MindSea

2. “Appeal to the emotions of your customers if you want them to remember your app and be more engaged. Look for opportunities to design for moments of happiness and delight because positive emotions prompt positive actions.” — Roy Vergara, Lead UX Designer at Zappos (App Store, Google Play)

3. “As a UX Designer, don’t rely on other members of your team or organization to be the subject matter experts — take it upon yourself to fill that role. One of the best ways to create an experience that truly resonates with your audience is to be immersed in the product and demographic you’re designing for. By living it, you’ll be able to empathize with customer pain points that cannot be expressed through raw data. Just like the real world, some things benefit from actual experience.” — Wes Lebsack, Product Designer at Facebook (App Store, Google Play)

4. “Establish goals early on and filter everything you do through them. Say no to things that don’t fit those goals. When designing, make sure you relentlessly pursue clarity, humanity, and delight. This approach may take you down many unexpected paths but ultimately leads to a successful product.” — Joshua Mauldin, Founder at Joshua Mauldin

5. “Finding genuine and impactful problems you can solve within the strengths and limitations of the platform is key. It’s a common fault to create promising applications and features that either don’t solve a problem, solve a problem that isn’t meaningful, or solve a problem that doesn’t exist. When you’ve finally identified a real problem, it’s crucial that your mobile solution doesn’t create more problems than it solves. You’d be surprised how often folks lose track of at least one of these core principles.” — Yoni De Beule, Design Manager at Yelp (App Store, Google Play)

6. “Live by “Less is More”. Focus on refining the experience around your core objectives. Don’t over-design. Your users don’t want to think.” — Eddie Contento, Vice President of User Experience at ChopDawg

7. “Make your interface easily learnable, so that a user can understand functions without any extra effort. There can be a design temptation to focus on minimalism for aesthetic purposes, but a lack of clarity can obstruct a user’s journey, and they’re left paralyzed. Sometimes the simplest design solutions can help, like using text labels instead of icons where a visual metaphor isn’t obvious or familiar enough.” — Glenn Hitchcock, Lead Product Designer at Fueled

8. “Millions of apps compete for a spot on the home screen. Why should people favor your app over all the others? High-quality execution is key: Read the HIG (Human Interface Guidelines), polish your UI, test your code. Rinse, repeat. Limit your app’s feature set and make sure that everything it does looks perfect and works really, really well!” — Frank Rausch, User Interface Typographer at Raureif

9. “User test every user interaction and interface you can think of. The app would not have legs without users, so why not go to the source?
Users not only have great input on experience, but they have great input on design as well. I’ve updated countless designs based purely on 3/5 users picking up on a design error that I didn’t see myself. Even the greatest designer can miss some basic UI issues when he/she works on the same creation day in and day out.” — Jennifer Wexler, Freelance User Experience Designer

10. “Get the potential end user involved as soon as possible. Start by validating your hypothesis on the user’s needs, and if it’s wrong, be humble enough to pivot or go in a completely different direction. It’s so easy to get caught up in your great idea, and the more time you have invested in the idea the more likely you are to develop confirmation bias. Never forget your success comes from creating something people truly need. Keep strong opinions weakly held and always be curious. — Paul Hershey, Senior Experience Designer at Electronic Arts

11. “Focus on your users — but more specifically, your basic users. What I mean by this is don’t go and add advanced features that can only be used using hidden gestures (even though they can be cool) because from my experience, users will either get lost or frustrated.” — Thientam Bach, iOS Designer at Surenix.

So, What’s your #1 tip for designing a great mobile app? Let’s discuss! We would happy to hear your thoughts and ideas

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