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This article was published on May 25, 2013

    11 tips for developing a mobile app that users will love

    11 tips for developing a mobile app that users will love Image by: tescha555
    Scott Gerber
    Story by

    Scott Gerber

    Scott Gerber is the founder of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most successful young Scott Gerber is the founder of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most successful young entrepreneurs. YEC members represent nearly every industry, generate billions of dollars in revenue each year and have created tens of thousands of jobs. Learn more at

    Entrepreneurs are now going well beyond building mobile-friendly versions of their websites to create apps that actually add to their bottom line — but doing it well is easier said than done. And a big part of why an app does or doesn’t take off is its usability, plain and simple.

    That’s why I recently asked a panel of 11 successful young entrepreneurs the following question:

    What are some app design best practices that entrepreneurs (and their dev teams) should not ignore?

    Below is their best advice — some of which can be hashed out early in the development phase, and a few tips on details to polish just before release:

    Robert J. Moore1. Testing is key
    Testing in mobile apps is a bit of a new field, but it can be extremely impactful. Check out platforms like Artisan to power these tests.
    Robert J. Moore, RJMetrics


    Danny Boise2. Go Deep With Your Users

    Your users’ motivations matter more than your own. You need to understand the motivations of your users at a very deep level and place triggers in their path accordingly. If you live this concept, you have a solid foundation to do user experience well. If you don’t, then your conversion attempts and growth tactic experiments are likely just a crapshoot.
    Danny Boice, Speek


    doreen-bloch3. Plan for the Offline Experience

    Some of the hottest app designs are lauded for their usability when the consumer is not actually online. Apps like WorkFlowy and Evernote work seamlessly even when the consumer is not connected to WiFi or another signal. This is a design practice that entrepreneurs and their development teams should think about as they plan their apps. Think ahead about how the app works in the offline mode.
    Doreen Bloch, Poshly Inc.


    Andrew Schrage4. Design With Ease of Use

    Even though almost half of all Americans now own smartphones, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re adept at using them. For that reason, the mobile app should be so simple that even a newbie mobile user can navigate it effectively.
    Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers Personal Finance


    Kelly Azevedo5. Make It Stupid Simple

    Once you have a rough design ready, take the most non-technical friend or family member you have and watch them work the app. Is it intuitive? Are there big, easy-to-read buttons? Do you write in tech-speak? Take extensive notes, and pay attention to the places where they get stuck — new users will drop off quickly if you don’t make your design intuitive and easy-to-use.
    Kelly Azevedo, She’s Got Systems


    adam lieb6. Tailor Your Design

    Android owners use their device differently than iPhone owners. Make sure your design principals match the operating system you are designing for. One size doesn’t fit all.
    Adam Lieb, Duxter


    Jesse Pujji7. Use Grids

    Using a grid in your design is helpful in that it keeps everything consistent as you move from page to page throughout your app. Grids are an important design concept that enable designers to maintain consistency, create visual connections and keep the design unified across the app.
    Jesse Pujji, Ampush


    Clay Hebert8. Cover as Many Platforms as Possible

    Every day users access apps across multiple devices and platforms — desktop, Web, smartphone and tablet — often covering all platforms in one day. Entrepreneurs need to make sure their app is available, functional and attractive across as many devices and platforms as possible.
    Clay Hebert, Spindows


    Matthew Manos9. Don’t Forget the Importance of Convenience

    With any mobile app or mobile website, the sole concern should be, “Am I making the end user’s life more convenient?” Human-centered design, a common process in the development of physical products, is often left out of the digital space. Don’t design from a cubicle. Design with your end user by seeking input at every step of the way and putting yourself in their shoes.
    Matthew Manos, verynice


    Rahul10. Emulate the Real World

    The key to designing a fantastic app that delivers a rich user experience is to create a design for your app that emulates the real life, subject or category that your app represents. For instance, if you’re building a productivity app, study how people are behaving using physical products, and design an app that enhances the usability and experience.
    Rahul Varshneya, Arkenea


    Prerna Gupta11. Pick One Thing and Nail It

    The biggest design mistake app developers make is trying to fit too many features onto one small screen. Your app should have ONE primary purpose. Be crystal clear in your mind about what that is, and then hit your user over the head with it. Don’t present the user with options and hope she’ll pick the right one. Instead, guide her through the exactly ONE experience you want her to have.
    Prerna Gupta, Smule

    Image credit: Thinkstock