What Matters When Designing Apps


Now is as good a time as any to get into the mobile app business. Research shows that when people use their smartphones, they spend about 85 percent of that time using apps. But they’re not using 30 or 40 apps though, at least not heavily — most people have their “top five” apps that they use most frequently.

Social media is a popular category, as are instant messaging apps like WhatsApp. If your business wants to make the list of apps which are worth precious real estate on someone’s phone, you have to be smart about your app’s design. Here are some key factors to consider when designing and developing an app.


Early on in the process, you’ll meet with one or more app development companies to find out if you can have a good working relationship. You should ask a lot of questions at those meetings, but if you agree on nothing else, you need to agree on the simplicity of the app. This means the app should be intuitive for users. Using your app shouldn’t feel like walking through a maze or answering a set of complicated riddles.

Think of your app like it’s a piece of art. It should be a simple landscape, rather than a bizarre abstract piece which is open to interpretation. Websites can be more complex than mobile apps, but the best websites give users all the information they need without confusing them or angering them in the process. The menu should be easy to read, among other things. Don’t overcrowd the menu with things that most people who download it will never use.

Remember, the internet has rewired our brains. Among other things, it made us more likely to skim a page for the important stuff rather than read a whole page from top to bottom. We read apps differently than we read books. A simple, clean design is also more accessible, and that matters more than you might realize. If you don’t already know about inclusive design principles, now’s a good time to do a little research.

It provides something unique

You need a good reason to have an app. Developing an app isn’t always a smooth process, and there can sometimes be unexpected delays and obstacles. When those happen, you need to remember why you’re going through the trouble of designing an app in the first place. “Because apps are popular” isn’t a good enough reason in and of itself.

The app should provide some function or feature that users can’t get anywhere else. Think of mobile banking apps: before they existed, we had to pay via cash, credit card, or maybe check. Now, people can just whip out their phones and hold it up to a sensor to pay for everything from prescription medicine to steak dinners.

If your business sells products, then you probably already have a website that lets people buy your merchandise. Think long and hard about how an app could make that process easier. Many restaurants have added mobile ordering, which allows people to skip the line and pick up an order 10 minutes after placing it. That may frustrate other customers who see someone cut the line and get their items faster, but restaurants and coffee shops have largely decided the cost is worth it if customers have a new way to order from them.

Decide what you can afford to change about the way you deliver your product or service, then think about how an app will help you in that process. If it won’t help you at all, then an app could be a costly investment that isn’t worth it in the end. But if an app will help you, then you’ll be putting your business directly onto customers’ phones.