6 Tips for Better App Designs

I often work on mobile apps with designers that have a web design background. I see the same set of mistakes being made as they transition from being web designers to mobile apps designer.

Here are a few tips from a developer’s point of view that I believe would make you create better designs and would help the developers you’re working with create better apps.

1. Don’t make teeny tiny touch targets. People don’t use a mouse on their phones, they use their fat squishy fingers, so adjust your touch targets accordingly. Don’t expect people to be able to tap a 20x20 pixel button that is surrounded by a bunch other tappable elements.

2. Understand the proper usage of UI elements. Both iOS and Android have thorough UI guidelines that talk about the proper usage of each UI element. Don’t consider yourself a mobile designer if you haven’t read those. Also, it’s always useful to look at how existing apps solve problems you’re trying to solve. Pttrns is a great resource for doing that.

3. Don’t design for a platform you haven’t used. Don’t design apps for iOS or Android if you don’t use them. Reading the interface guidelines and looking at other apps will help a lot but it’s not enough. You won’t get a grasp of what a good app on a certain platform should be like unless you’ve used that platform for some time.

4. Understand the different screen sizes and the impact it has on your designs. Don’t be one of those designers that just want to know what size they need to export the images assets to. You need to understand how different screen sizes are treated on each platform and how that would impact your design.

5. Designs are not static. Many designer make the mistake of thinking of their designs in a static way. Those usually end up with pretty designs that aren’t very usable. Think of the animations and interactions of the app. Think of the different states of each view and how views are going to look like when they are empty or full of data.

6. Learn to code. It’s not as crazy as it sounds, and no one is expecting you to be able to build complete apps on your own, but dipping your toes into coding will give a better perspective on what’s possible and what’s not and will greatly help you build better apps.