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By Phil Talbot – go to guy | mobile ordering | saavi

Android vs iPhone app design by Matt Hamm, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 Generic License  by  Matt Hamm 

Perhaps you have mastered the world of cross-platform app design and is ready to get your hands on your first mobile app design.

Though you maybe ready to get down to the nitty-gritty and is already having visions of grandeur how the whole universe is going to thank you for such a wonderful accomplishment, think twice before you leap. Many an enterprising mobile app developer forget that ultimately it is the user who is the final arbiter of the application.

Before you catch negative reviews here are 10 mobile app design mistakes you should avoid to prevent putting your career in a precarious position.

1. Flowmap first before wireframes.

Technicalities can follow so make sure from the onset you have the user in mind. Even the simplest of applications should have a well-thought-out flowmap to get a navigational structure in place.

Skipping the flowmap can have disastrous results; it is like going to an unknown country without employing a map.

2. Never overlook the budget.

It is easy for a designer to bring changes to the table. However, everything has to pass through the developer. Budget should bring the right perspective to changes. Things that look as simple as a type-ahead search that gives live results may take more than just an hour, or even days to build.

3. Don’t let low resolution or bitmaps fool you.

High-res, pixel-dense screens is the way to go. If you are being skimpy on the pixels, forget about getting users for your app.

4. Never undersize the hit area.

One measurement to remember is the average size of user’s index finger: 1.6 to 2cm wide. Make buttons smaller and your functionality is in danger.

5. Intro animations can be a drag.

Sure, fun little animations upon opening an app can be really sweet. But if you have to wait for ages to see it, then that would amount to many users doing a change of mind.

6. Never leave users hanging.

Even when something is being loaded make sure your users know something is going on. Utilizing a countdown can do the trick or even better a progress indicator.

7. Avoid being a blind copycat.

Lest you forget, every mobile OS has its own quirks. Android, Windows Phone and Android have very distinct aesthetics. Though it is not your obligation to make your app act like it was built by the OS creator, making it looking like it belongs to the platform is definitely a good consideration.

8. There is good pixel-density and there is such a thing as an overstuffed one.

True, there is a strong temptation to get things crammed up into the interface because you have more pixels within your disposal especially when designing high PPI (pixel per inch) displays.

It’s astounding if you’re looking at it on a 27-inch high-res display. Remember though that the actual device could measure a full ruler lower or even much less.

9. Never assume people will use your app the way you do.

Usability testing frees your app. No matter how good you think your app is, it still has to boil down to the user. A closed beta to a limited number of friends could do the trick.

10. Use gestures but don’t abuse them.

Remember that it is necessary to make every single element of your interface fully visible or easily-accessible.

For instance, we could look into the Mail app used for iPhone. A user could actually swipe a message revealing a delete button in the inbox view. This is a good shortcut but in a way it also shows a balance.  Other users who have no knowledge of the shortcut may just press the “edit” button.

Gestures are a plus but being overly dependent on them can be disastrous.

In the end, keeping your users in mind always can save you the hassle. Above all, they are the reason why you are building the app.


Phil Talbot is founder of SAAVI – the mobile ordering specialists and the resident expert in mobile ordering systems. You can follow SAAVI on Facebook.

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