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Evan Rose
Evan Rose 27 June 2017

To Aspiring Developers: The Hallmarks of Bad Mobile UI and How to Avoid Them

Having a smooth and efficient User Interface (UI) is critical in laying the groundwork for a smooth and efficient user experience (UX). The benefits of a good UI are plentiful, especially if you’re looking to bolster customer relations. Unfortunately, crafting a good UI is difficult, and there are many pitfalls that developers can encounter during the design and development processes. Here are some of them.

Hyper-Complexity

The definition of a software application is: “a program or piece of software designed and written to fulfill a particular purpose of the user.” Conceiving an idea and working to make it into an app is inherently ambitious. Unfortunately, the initial whirlwind of excitement one experiences when laying out an app can (and in many cases does) inspire the developer too much. Over-excitement can blur and over-expand a developer’s vision for the app, causing scope creep.

A stellar example of a company that has gotten app complexity down is Google. While it has diverse ambitions as a company, all of its apps serve a specific purpose. Google Docs is for word documents, Google Sheets is for spreadsheets, Google Slides is for slideshows, Google Forms is for surveys, and Google Drive is for efficiently organizing them all. While Google’s mission is to revolutionize the creation and organization of documents, they knew that this mission was best achieved via a package of multiple, specialized applications.

Inconsistent/Unsightly Aesthetic

An attractive and consistent aesthetic is crucial for the success of an app. Apps are the basis of interaction between a consumer and a product or service a company offers, so in a sense, they are the basis of interaction between a consumer and a company. A brand’s consistency and reliability can often get lost in the effort to make an app highly customizable with different fonts and colors.

Notability is a great example of an application that is highly customizable without compromising its brand. While users can change the colors of folders, etc, this is just for the organization of files; in good UI’s, the customization is confined to specific things like organization. Also, always remember to set defaults in case users want to go back on their customization efforts.

Exorbitant Requests for Feedback/Ads

When an app is created to be put into the public market, developers tend to embed requests for feedback within the app so that they can improve it over time. While this intention is often well-meaning, having too many requests for feedback within an app can annoy users and lead to dreaded app uninstalls.

Free apps often also have another feature: advertisements for revenue generation. When used sparingly, ads are not harmful, however, when ads are unavoidable and embedded into every facet of the user experience, they become increasingly frustrating. Having ads around every corner looks cheap and reflects poorly upon the entity that produced the ad.

One company that has mastered both feedback and ad integration is Tinder--yes, the online dating service. It employs two clever strategies. First, the ads are easily bypassable. If you don’t want to interact with it, you can swipe left and remove it instantly. If you’re interested, you can swipe right, get an automatic “match,” and get info about the product/service. While Tinder’s feedback system is a little sneaky, it certainly works well. Tinder generally prompts users with a request to rate the app after they get a match or two. They use the wave of post-match excitement and satisfaction to encourage their users to give feedback about the service. These strategies are low-profile and effective, and have contributed to the improvement of the app and its revenue generation.

Unlimited Possibilities

Creating an app is an inherently ambitious pursuit. When creating the app, use already successful apps as points of reference: see how they accomplish their missions and continually improve themselves. There are unlimited possibilities in the world of app creation, just make sure not to slip into any of the above pitfalls. Happy developing!

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