App design cannot exist in a vacuum. It must be responsive to the user’s needs or it won’t gain traction. Designers must consider the physical realities of the medium to solve problems and enhance experience. For example, those who are engaged in mobile app design have to think about the abilities and limitations of these portable devices. Phones evolve over time so apps will also have to evolve with them. Below are some of the common considerations when designing an app:
Small Screens Require Fewer Elements
Minimalism fits perfectly with mobile aesthetics. Given the small screen, it would not be wise to pack so many elements on each page. This will make text difficult to read and onscreen buttons hard to press, especially since people will need to use their large fingertips instead of slender pens. A page can also get confusing if you present too many information on it. That’s why anything non-essential must be removed. Presentation has also shifted from pure text to images, graphs, animations, and videos.
Button Commands and Buttonless Design
Most people will use their right thumb as their primary controller. That’s why the physical buttons are placed where the thumb can reach them easily. The volume controls and power button are generally near this finger. In apps, these can also take on other roles such as turning pages in an ebook reader, scrolling through a webpage in a browser, or activating the shutter in a camera app. Now that leading brands are introducing buttonless phones, app designers must figure out other means of assigning actions such as user gestures.
Portrait Mode for One-handed Operation
Portrait mode has stuck for the basic reason that this feels more natural in the hand. You can grab your phone with one hand instead of two. You can flip screens with your thumb. If viewing on landscape mode, then it would feel unbalanced unless you use two hands. That’s why designing usually have to work around this long and narrow canvas. The best ones are able to turn it into an advantage.
Colors for Branding, Highlights, and Eye Strain
App colors are typically chosen to strengthen branding and highlight things that users should pay attention to. These days, colors are also used to reduce eye strain and improve battery life. Many apps are now providing a dark mode that does away with the ubiquitous white background. Instead, we have black or dark gray backgrounds and lighter text.