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MOBILE APP PROTOTYPING: MAJOR DESIGN CONSIDERATIONS

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August 7, 2017

App Maintenance

MOBILE APP PROTOTYPING: MAJOR DESIGN CONSIDERATIONS

When the competition gets tough for mobile application developers, pitching your digital prototype to an investor can get tricky. One of the biggest causes for the adrenaline rush is, of course, the fear of rejection – what if your client isn’t pleased with the mobile user interface (UI) design you worked on? What if you deliver an app at the wrong time and/or at the incorrect marketplace? What if no potential partner wants to go even near your idea?

No matter how strong the fear of rejection becomes, there is nothing wrong with stacking the odds in your favour – for example, creating a tech-prototype that induces a ‘wow’ moment in the consumer. On the other hand, if you don’t have a client, you can help beta-users get a sneak peek of your digital model. Just picture loading your Kickstarter page the first day and receiving comments along the following lines: ‘This is the experience I have been waiting for all my life’.

Developing a brilliant prototype that users, clients, and even potential partners cannot resist is one of the most essential steps in getting your design in the hands of more beta consumers. But how can you make that happen?

What users expect from their apps

According to Nielsen’s report, from 2011 to 2012, the average mobile users went from installing 32 apps on their phone to 41 apps. In fact, almost 85 per cent of smartphone users now prefer mobile apps over mobile websites because they’re faster, more convenient and easier to browse.

The most common app issues that users face though are lagging, crashing, and sluggish load times. These are some of the factors that account for a majority of the poor reviews on app stores.
After analysing a generous number of English language app reviews, 25 million to be precise, Appfigures found that in single-star reviews, the most frequently used words were ‘fix’ and ‘work’, while five star reviews focused more on descriptors like ‘great’, ‘fun’, and ‘easy’.

Soaring or sinking into oblivion?

It is usually hard for marketers to produce a consumer-effective app design for their business. More often than not, the choice depends on the research and survey they conduct, which in turn helps them select the best option for their targeted clientele. After all, it is highly important to build an app that fulfils all of your users’ requirements.

The ability to break through and stand out in the market becomes difficult for many businesses, since a huge crowd of competitors are already present. Hence, mentioned ahead are 9 such tips that will help you design a mobile app that won’t just be commended by users, but will also convert them into loyal customers.

1. Develop an idea

Whether it is vague or concrete, every major mobile app starts with an idea. The biggest challenge is to come up with an idea that is innovative, creative, and exactly the product everyone has been longing for. Always remember that less is more! A fast, responsive, well-structured app is better than an aesthetically pleasing, but instable and buggy one.

Furthermore, before you start working on the design, it is important to think of another very important aspect; the competitors. Without delving into any details, try to answer the following questions to stay ahead of the game:

1. Who is my target audience?

2. What function does the app have?

3. What is the aim of the app?

The Arles Festival Concept

One of the main elements of any good UI design is clarity. It should neither confuse your users nor give them a hard time figuring out how to use the interface. For example, the app design for the Arles Festival, created by Angelique Calmon and Juliette Lima, maintained the idea of having a straightforward system. End result? Thousands of annual visitors being led to only the most important information about the festival.

2. Choose the right platform

The first thing you need to decide before beginning to design an app is the platform that would work best for your interface. Since it’s difficult to generate revenue from Android, you can use iOS, the operating system used in iPhones and iPads, to make more money. However, according to comScore’s latest report, Android is now dominating the smartphone race in the United States with 53 per cent market share, compared to 36 per cent for iOS.

3. Keep consumer behavior in mind

As designers, we all strive for that moment where our mobile UI blueprint feels like ‘perfection’, but how do we cross the line from a pretty and functional app to a downright jaw-dropping experience?

Much of it comes down to consumer behavior. Your mobile UI is not the full story; it is a part of a narrative. Remember that when you present your prototype, whether you’re showing it in person or via a conference call, there is always more to the story than simply what’s happening on your client’s mobile device.

For instance, if your client is texting a friend while watching Netflix on his tablet, there must be something happening across the range of devices. Think of how your UI design will interact with the customer – maybe your app will help someone find the best bottles of wine, fast food diners, or bus commuting stops in their area.

A few features will emerge as necessary once you start creating your prototype. It is obvious that you will want some location-finding functionality, and since Wi-Fi might be coming in and out, that is another important aspect to keep in mind.

The latest trend taking a toll on app designing is the shift of user behavior from tapping buttons to swiping. Considering the various sizes of the users’ devices, they are probably growing with time, therefore, you don’t want to dislocate their phalanges reaching from one end of the screen to another.

All of these considerations might seem trivial, but go big into creating a prototype that feels user-friendly, smooth and intuitive. And once you have your consumers sold on the model, you can eventually blow their minds away with the beta and the final product.

Designers at Otreva, a web and mobile development shop, for example, keep the end-users at the forefront of the process. The goal is always to offer consumers a clear path to making the right purchase.

Regardless of the interface they’re using, Otreva’s transformative designs allow every consumer to access their e-commerce website. By engaging the customers at all levels, Otreva provides them with the service they are looking for with a website that allows easy, on-the-go browsing.

4. Run rightful quality assurance

Quality Assurance (QA) is not just about hammering out technical details of coding, but it’s also about making sure every other aspect of your mobile design is on-point. You don’t want to create a model that thwarts your users’ experience with egregious kerning – the process of adjusting the spacing between characters in a proportional font, usually to achieve a visually pleasing result.

There are two main things that you should look out for when developing an app prototype: general visual consistency and consistency of your brand’s assets.

General visual consistency aims to make a visual ‘declaration’ by showcasing to its consumer how the mobile UI is going to look and feel. Being the designer, you automatically attain expertise over it. Any kind of inconsistency in your spacing, font, and leading, as well as how the objects behave visually, can take a lot away from your visual authority.

For example, Waterlogue app lets its viewers watch as it paints over their photos to create an aesthetic watercolour version. The 14 different styles create the perfect picture by tweaking pen outlines and wetness.

You never know if a new client is a real disciplinarian when it comes to white spaces around a logo. Thus, creating a prototype that checks off on major brand guidelines will make the consumer feel that you really did your homework.

5. End-to-end encryption

Just as consumer data is important for an enterprise application, mobile devices are no different. When developing mobile enterprise apps, as a designer, you need to pay extra attention to data security, since using portable gadgets actually increases the risk of data leakage. The data is most likely to be sniffed from malware in jailbroken phones or maybe obtained when the physical device is lost or stolen. All sensitive information should, thus, be encrypted to minimize the effects of data indiscretion.

For users most concerned about their privacy, Open Whisper Systems’ Signal is probably the best-known messaging app to use. Being a free interface, Signal provides voice-call services and messaging with complete end-to-end encryption. You can easily send text messages to individuals or groups, while sharing media and other attachments to your phone contacts.

Finally, you can save your data if you implement security redundancy to further secure your client’s information. It is not surprising to hear that there is a security loophole in a specifically developed app browser.

6. The strongest copy game

Whether you are halfway through designing the best mobile UI or have just begun developing a prototype, the copying process can sometimes feel like an afterthought. However, if anyone of your client turns out to be particular about misspelled words or incorrect grammar, it only takes a misplaced comma to disrupt what would otherwise be a ‘magical’ experience.

While in some mobile designs, the visuals should do most of the talking, crafting a well-worded message can also do wonders in leaving a serious impact on your potential clients. In fact, you shouldn’t say too much and instead start culling. When in doubt, leave it out.

Proofreading is probably the most important copy task to remember when creating a prototype. The step implies more than running a usual spell check on Word before you copy and paste your wireframe. This would involve an editor to comb through each frame or screen and make revisions wherever needed.

7. Conversion and usability

The most important thing you can do to test the app’s usability and conversion is to use mobile A/B testing platforms. A/B testing allows app designers to test two or more variations of the same interface or layout. For example, you can test if a red or yellow ‘buy now’ button brings in more conversions. You can even test if other purchasing paths drive more responses, or a particular layout results in longer in-app time than another. According to Obinna EkezieWakanow.com, improving app usability requires constant testing and optimization.

8. Create a hype!

It’s not just about the few jaw-drops that your mobile UI receives during the initial moments your client gets the design in their hands, it is also about the pre-glory period leading up to it. Think about it for a minute: are you hitting all your goals ahead of time?

If you think there is a buzz within your office, feel free to share it with your users and investors. Drumming up anticipation is one thing that goes into creating a prototype that blows a user’s mind. Your marketing efforts start the very moment you begin working on your application.

Let your clientele know when things are going smoothly and be careful not to divulge too much breath on the subject. Remember, there is a fine line between helpful updates and a cluttered inbox.

Ken Yarmosh, the founder and CEO of App Savvy, suggests developers to think of their marketing efforts as a crescendo. At the beginning, a designer’s marketing efforts start soft, but then continue to build, and eventually peak with its arrival in the respective app stores. Just make sure to engage potential customers early and often.

9. Go live!

Wireframes surely deserve a place in your toolkit, since they are useful tools to quickly show how a website can be laid out following a two-dimensional, static format. However, while working on a mobile UI, you really want your user to interact with the app experience.

Unlike PC or website applications, mobile apps only need to be touched instead of scrolled or typed on. It is difficult to assimilate the touchscreen sensation with a printed out PDF. You don’t want to lose the animations, interactivity and haptic feedback of your interface that contribute to having a ‘magical’ moment.

However, designers have the option of swinging far, by sinking time they don’t have, into creating a model that looks just like the real thing. Unless your development team happens to be loaded with excessive bandwidth, this is not the right way to bring in a developer to produce a beta.

Conclusion

Developing a mobile app prototype for your business will help you find its niche and connect with consumers who are always on the go. In return, it becomes easier for them to get acquainted with your services. Remember The Golden Rule: design your app in such a way that it covers all the specifications needed to make your company thrive.

 


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