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How To Design Mobile Apps With Your Audience In Mind

Posted by Ben Dickson on Dec 1, 2015 12:00:00 PM
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This is something you’ve read a lot about in different posts (including some of my own): When building an app, design with your audience in mind. Stop thinking and designing from your own perspective.

Easier said than done - and what does it actually mean, anyway? In this post, I’ll be giving you some simple tips on how to design apps that will better appeal to the end user, resulting in a better user experience (and, hopefully, better user reviews and more installs, too!).

Find out what they're thinking first: How To Get Feedback On Your App, Quick And Dirty

Know and identify your audience and their needs

The first order of business is to determine who will be using your app. Identifying your audience before starting to design your app will help you carry out the coding and define the functionality based on their preferences. Here are a few questions that can help you in this regard:

  • Will the app be used by a specific demographic?
  • Will the app be used in a specific region or do you want it to have global appeal?
  • What is the age range of the users who will be using the app?
  • What similar apps are those users using?

You can come up with many more.

Identifying your audience and examining their characteristics will help you find out how you can distinguish yourself from the competition and target the needs of your potential userbase.

Your app has to make something easier for your users, provide them with valuable information, save them money, or entertain them. For instance, one of the factors behind the success of Uber was the fact that it helped users cut transportation fees.

Answering these questions is also crucial if your app is going to be supported and funded by ads. For the ads to work, they have to fit the demographics of the app users.

Try to connect with people from your target audience. Social media and app forums are good places to find people interested in the app you’re writing. Ask about their experience with other apps, the problems they face, new features they’d like to see, or actions they’d prefer to do in other ways.

Know your competitors and set yourself apart

Whatever app you’re planning to write, you can be certain that there are many other similar apps already available in app stores. Knowing about them is just as important as knowing your audience. Obtaining and harnessing this knowledge will help you anticipate and improve how your audience will react to your app.

You have to have a convincing argument to encourage users to download and utilize your app, especially if you’re competing with big brands. You have to set yourself apart from the competition, show your potential users that you can fulfill their needs in ways no other app has done before.

In many cases, localizing your app can help you take the lead from big competitors, especially when it comes to daily services. Uber's a great example here once more: the stunning success of the app has given rise to a new breed of localized carpooling services that have had success in their own region.

 A timeline of strategic feathered friends: How did Angry Birds become so successful, anyway?

Tailor user interface and experience according to your audience

The goal of UI and UX should be to create a feeling of welcome for the user to embrace. The more personalized the experience seems, the more comfortable users will become with it. This will create a spike of approval on the user side and as a consequence help to expand the profit margin and increase the likeliness of users spending money in your app.

The caveat to creating impeccable user experience is knowing and researching about your audience’s behavior. This is perhaps the most important aspect of UI/UX design.

Knowing the general information and demographics of your target audience will help a lot. But it is also crucial to understand how your users will be navigating your app. For instance, while you might be developing and testing your app in the comfort of your office, never forget that mobile users are always on the move, and their app experience is always interrupted with phone calls, text messages and notifications from other apps. This is especially true in respect with business apps. In such cases, your app procedures must be concise and simple, allowing users to later resume where they left off.

These are types of patterns that you have to identify, anticipate, and embrace in order to design better user experience.

Allow users to customize your app according to their needs

No matter how well you design your app, you should keep in mind that you can never conform to the preferences of all your users. And that’s why customization is a must for every mobile app.

Make the customization choices compelling, but ensure that they don't overwhelm the usefulness of the application.

Do allow your users to change skin, colors, and layouts of the app to match their taste. But also keep in mind that customization should not be limited to the visuals of the app. Users should be able to determine what elements should be visible on their dashboard page, what types of notifications and in-app messages they wish to receive, etc. The only thing that will annoy a user more than an untimely push notification is not being able to disable it. It wouldn’t do to have users uninstall your app because they can't customize it.

What's been your biggest challenge in terms of designing your app to match your potential audience? How do you stay connected with their wants and needs? We'd love to hear from you in the comments below.

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