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7 Essential User Interface Design Principles for Mobile Apps

The app stores are more competitive than ever before, with millions of apps to choose from, you often will have just a few seconds to impress users. These few seconds need to count or your prospective user will just keep looking for another alternative. The first impression that your app creates needs to impress users enough that they will download your application. This impression is generally formed as a user looks at screenshots of your user interface (UI) on one of the app stores.

After a user has downloaded your app, it needs to be able to “make the cut” on users’ devices. It is usually the user experience of an application that determines whether an app remains on a user’s device and gets used or if it is quickly abandoned. When users interact with your app, they want it to be smooth, intuitive and easy to use. Much in the same way that the design of an airplane will affect its aerodynamics, you will find that the design of the user experience of your app will have a tremendous impact on how well it performs.

The user interface of your app has a substantial effect on the user experience. Your app’s user interface should be designed for a specific target audience, with the intended users’ preferences and expectations at the front of your mind. With intense competition in the mobile app stores, you have to make sure you make the right moves to engage savvy modern digital consumers.

Before you start to design the user interface for your mobile app, you should know what your app will do differently than competing apps and what your app will do better than competing apps. Differentiation will help you stand out in the marketplace and you should emphasize these features. In the end, the success of your mobile app will boil down to its performance and usability. Make sure you leverage great design and a highly usable interface to make the useful features of your app a joy to use.

These 7 essential UI design principles will help you create a user interface that improves your app’s performance and user experience:

Focus on the app’s users

First things first, before we start to focus on the app’s users you need to make sure that you have a laptop that is designed for programming. Once you do, you now need to hone in your focus on the app’s target market. Who will be using the app? What will they be looking for? The user interface design should be in sync with what they are looking for and allow them to accomplish intended tasks easily.  For example, if your app is going to focus on mobile commerce and shopping, you will want to showcase products with nice pictures and simple, well-written descriptions. You will also want to create a checkout process that is easy to use, allowing users to check out with a minimum number of steps. The goal is to understand how users will utilize the app and then focus on streamlining processes to improve the user experience.

Cut the clutter

Mobile apps generally work best when focused on a limited number of tasks and the ability to accomplish those tasks easily. To do this, you do not want to overwhelm your users with options or unnecessary elements as they will merely distract and impede them. Take time to focus on the content and features on each screen of your app, retaining only the most important, relevant and necessary functionalities. Each screen should only display to users the options that they require to accomplish their intended task. Filling the screen with unnecessary clutter confuses users and reduces the quality of the user experience.

Be brand consistent

It is essential that you offer users a seamless brand experience regardless of which touchpoint they are using to interact with your brand. A well designed mobile app that offers a smooth user experience is an important part of a seamless brand experience. The user interface of a mobile app must properly reflect the brand image and connect with its users. Your brand has its own story and that story must be reflected in the app’s user interface.

Make your UI platform-specific

Different mobile platforms each tend to have their own distinct appearance with specific design styles that go along with them. When you are designing an app user interface, you do not want to use the exact same design layout for your app if it will be released on different operating systems (OS).  The different versions for Android and iOS should each have unique details that are in-line with their respective OS. The look and feel of your app should flow with the different operating systems it will be available for use on.

Leverage device capabilities

Today’s mobile devices are packed with powerful features that you should make the most of when designing your application. Utilize these features to enhance the usability of your mobile app. One of these features is Siri. iOS now provides support for developers to connect with Siri. Leverage Siri-based features to improve the user experience, its natural language recognition can help improve user interaction and give your app a benefit that competing apps may not have.

Don’t try to cram everything in

Don’t be tempted, as many designers are, to eliminate white space, reduce font sizes and cram your UI full. If you do, everything will end up getting lost in the crowd. Packed user interfaces present users with visual overload and eventually users will just give up on your application. A great way to help create a cleaner user interface and better user experience for your users is by creating a progressive disclosure of information. Present content only when your users ask for it and limit the choices available. When keeping relevant information just a click away, don’t forget to maintain context when it is presented. Presentation techniques that stagger information give users the best of both worlds as they help simplify user interfaces, yet users are able to access the info they are looking for with just the touch of a button.

Don’t be afraid to hire experts

When your business decides to build a mobile app, you will want it to have the right blend of utility and usability. Expert designers can be indispensable creating a user experience that your customers enjoy using. You want your app to have the kind of user experience that keeps users glued to your app, to do this; it may require investing in quality UX/UI design. Investing in UX design can have big returns; in fact, IBM has stated that for every dollar they invest in UX they get $10 to $100 back. User interfaces created by masters of the craft can vastly improve the engagement of your application.


The user interface design of your mobile app is very important when it comes to the performance of your mobile app and will have a big impact on its success. These 7 UI design principles will go a long way in helping you design an app that will be well received by your target market.

Written By

Samella Garcia works as an Integration Manager for Vanity Point. She has 8 years of experience developing mobile applications and web sites that focus on UX. Samella has a passion for user experience projects, coding, digital technology and hiking. LinkedIn Profile | Facebook Profile

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