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UI Design Principles Every Mobile App Developer/Designer Must Follow

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The following article is a guest post contributed by Ashni Sharma

In mobile app development, the UI (user interface) and UX (user experience) play the most significant roles in a mobile app’s success. From the perspective of a designer, an exceptional UI for mobile app can only be ensured when you follow some tried and tested UI design principles. The aspects relevant to user interface design for a mobile app vary from the facets of web development and hence, must be approached in a different manner.

Principles to adhere to while designing mobile app’s UI

It is always advisable to stick to certain principles that are accepted by the designers’ community. Such UIs not only attract the user, but also help in retaining them in the long run. Check the UI principles listed below:

  • Consistency of the design layout: Different sections of the app must be coherent in the design, and there must be a consistent flow of the layout throughout the app. Apps like Evernote, Netflix, and Dropbox deliver great consistency in their design layout. This also applies to the common features of the apps built for the same OS.
  • Unambiguous Interactive Elements: The design elements that are interactive in nature must be clearly depicted. Ambiguity should be avoided to make sure that the users are going to access such elements when required by them. Options hidden in menus may sometime be forgotten. Several surveys and studies have revealed that conspicuous menu options are not good for mobile apps. At least, the key navigation elements must be visible.
  • Single Trial Learning Experience: The term ‘Intuitive’ is often used to describe mobile apps when suggesting that they are very user-friendly. Actually, this word means that users understand the flow of the app without remembering the steps.  Options should be placed in a manner where users can infer what the next step would be.
  • Anticipate and Answer Users’ Queries: When a users tap a button, they want to know whether the process has started and how long will it take. As technology abstracts these actions, the users are usually kept in the dark while the process is going on. Use Toast in Android and notifications in iOS so users will be notified when a process has completed. The Gmail app is a good example of such a design, as it displays messages like “saved in draft, message sent, etc.” to inform the users about the completion of the task.
  • Layered User Experience: The UX should be layered. Layered here refers that all the features of an app must not be exposed at once. It should surface out as the users delve deeper into the app and discover new things. This would help in keeping the users’ interest intact for a longer time. WhatsApp offers a good layered experience as users explore new features as they go deeper into the app.

  • In-App Search

In-app search feature amplifies the usability of an app for the end users. More intuitive is the in-app search, better is the experience that a user derives from the app. There are predefined proven search patterns that make the in-app search feature a treat for the end-users.

  1. Recent Search: This search type makes the search field intuitive by presenting the users a list of recently searched keywords. It saves the effort put in by the users and hence, enhance the usability of the app.
  2. Auto complete pattern: This type of search has made the life easier for the users. As the name suggests, it completes the few letters of the keyword typed in by the users and shows the complete word or phrase as suggestions. It also saves the effort of the users and thus, offers a great user experience.
  3. Dynamic Filtering: This search pattern filters the data already on the screen on the basis of the keyword that you type. This is one of the striking features of web 2.0. It differs from Auto Complete in the sense that the objects to be filtered are already displayed on the screen
  4. Search Criteria Form: This is a search pattern where the users can search for the desired information by providing information in a preset pattern. Such search patterns take the input through a form where the users feed in the query through a set of search filters. Hotel booking app is the perfect example for this type of search pattern as the users have to fill multiple sets of information to know the room availability and tariff.

OS-Specific Technical Guidelines

  • OS Specific Designs

App designs need to be consistent with the mobile operating system it runs on. As with the latest version of Android, Material design must be followed in the apps. Several iOS design patterns used in Cocoa will be good for the iOS apps.

  • User Input

Typing on a smartphone is not a breeze. For typing different characters, you need to press the shift button quite frequently. To make things easier for users, the app must open the aptest iteration of the keyboard. Moreover, auto-capitalisation, auto-correct, and auto-complete mode must also be enabled according to the requirement.

  • Utilise the true potential of the mobile platform

The mobile device on which the app runs might have certain hardware specifications that might enhance the functionalities of the mobile app. The app’s UI must utilise these features like front camera, gyroscope, high resolution HD display, finger-print unlocking, GPS, and few others.


Implementing these UI principles while designing the user interface for a mobile app will yield superior design layout and offer overall great user experience. The users of a mobile app need to be impressed within the few seconds after they start using it.

Author’s Bio:

Ashni Sharma (@anshiapps) is an application developer at AppsChopper. She codes most of the time, and in her free time she writes about the new trends, latest advancements in app technology, and various other diverse topics. You can reach out to her on Linkedin

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