Top 10 Application Design Mistakes and How To Avoid Them
This article discusses some common design mistakes made in application development and provides a few tips for avoiding them.
Written by RamotionMay 12, 202316 min read
Last updated: Aug 22, 2023
Not determining the target audience
It may be the most crucial title in the article because the ultimate goal of the designs is to reach the right user audience. One of the biggest reasons mobile apps fail is not understanding the user and ignoring their requests.
In modern app interfaces, color, font selection, and even layout may vary according to the target audience. Another criterion for reaching the target audience is the country. For example, some colors may have different meanings in some countries. In addition, the direction of writing can also affect the layout.
Age of target audience
Determining the target audience’s age also makes it easier for you to decide on the complexity of the design and some of the features you can offer. If you’re targeting teens, you know they can easily use more complex features because they already know the same feature on other apps. You should be aware that older users may experience problems when it comes to complicated tasks. If you need to appeal to a broad audience, make sure the app is truly user-friendly.
Jargon can determine the age, income, and regional factors of your target audience. Likewise, it is important when addressing the user. After determining your target audience, you can decide on the jargon you will use much more easily. Before designing an app, consider whether the app is really useful to the user. Understanding the need correctly helps you introduce the right features. Designers experience designer blindness; The design can be considered as very user-oriented and has good UX. Everyone might think they understand this design. The way to understand this is through user research.
It is often misleading to think that the user knows everything “as well as a designer”. But trying to show everything to the user is also a wrong approach. It is best to give the necessary information to the user only when necessary. Guiding the user journey according to the symbols, colors, and designs that the user is familiar with is the main task of design thinking.
As a result, most users think that a better-designed tool works better. However, considering the user, UX is more important than a nice-looking but dysfunctional user interface design.
Ignoring the app UX architecture
It is necessary to design the flow of functions in the app without friction. Making the function flow/path too long is tiring. The first information that comes to mind here is; It is the recommendation that there should be no more than 2–3 clicks for the user to reach the point they want to reach. Although we should try to keep the function path short, this information is sometimes not correct. It is almost impossible to complete some functions with a maximum of 3 clicks. The issue to be considered here is that the flow is prepared with a correct UX.
A little long flow is not a problem if the user is not forced, or tired, and does not interrupt the process. Key values; make as much interaction as necessary. No more or less.
Although it may seem simple to create a user flow before starting the mobile app design, it allows you to solve many problems that may occur later. Starting the design before the flow can take the app’s UX architecture to a point where it cannot be changed in the later stages of the design. For this reason, thinking about the app architecture first makes the design phase easier and faster. This is ideal for a good app design process.
You might think that for an effective flow, the user should have easy access to everywhere. But that shouldn’t be the case. Access should be facilitated only to the app screens that you want the users to use the most. Facilitating access to any point may cause the user to get lost in the app.
For example, the most visited app screens are located in the tab bar. The screens in the tab bar are considered the main screens of the app. Thus, users can access the most used screens in the fastest way. This flow is frictionless.
In short, when users want to reach a point from one point to another — regardless of the length — they must reach the most frictionless way; they should not feel lost in the app.
Visual supports inflows also help the user. An example of visual support is icons. Again, considering the tab bar example, the icons provide visual support that will allow users to understand where they are. The screens in the tab bar are usually supported by familiar icons. Showing an active tab indicating the user’s current location is a good example that can help the user.
At the same time, users should know how to proceed. How they can move forward or back in a function other than where they are in the app is also necessary for a frictionless flow.
To overload the user in the user flow
The importance of creating the app architecture before starting the design was mentioned. Another detail that can be noticed is not the overloaded app. During the wireframing phase or the flow creation phase, take a look at how long the flows take.
The ideal design can create a flow that is completed with as few steps as possible. If there are processes that can be completed automatically, automate them. Repetitive tasks are also tedious and should be automated. Otherwise, users may prefer to log out of the app instead of learning the app.
While paying attention to the aesthetics of the design, the difficulty of the flow can be overlooked. For this reason, completing the flow step before starting the design means a more logical design process.
Not having a great app copy
Users are not keen on reading. But ultimately, the only way to appeal to the user is through the content (copies) in the app. Therefore, not paying attention to copies is one of the important points. That is ignored in app design. While it is not the designer’s job to create app copies, the designer’s learning is a plus. Good copy emphasizes design.
Designers can work with UX Writers here. The length of the text fields, the harmony in the design when translated into different languages -and most importantly- the fact that it does not lose the same emphasis depends on the designer’s collaboration with the UX Writer. Sometimes it is appropriate to determine the content before the design, and sometimes the copies progress with the design. The decision for this varies from project to project. While not essential to being a good designer, it is advantageous to know about UX writing.
Knowing the text length allows the designer to fine-tune the white-space balance. In addition, the designer has to make the texts more readable by knowing only the text length. With this in mind, it is useful to know the content length. Because of readability, paragraphs should be separated between certain lengths.
Bad copy makes it difficult to understand, sometimes first users can’t even understand what the app is about. The importance of copies is understandable when you consider the time users take to get to know an app. It was mentioned how the paragraphs should be presented. However, copies should be chosen wisely in striking places such as the headline. It should be aimed to be clear with few words. The same meaning can often be meaningful and descriptive in a shorter sentence. Keep it in mind.
One of the duties of the copies is to give feedback. You can give more explicit feedback to the user. For example, instead of saying “an error occurred” in the event of an error, it makes sense to explain what the error is in a way they can understand.
You forgot about fat fingers
In mobile apps, trying to click the little buttons is a pure grind. It is also known as fat fingers. More than bad design, it’s an accessibility issue. There is a specific document for this in the mobile app guides. For example, Apple recommends that a button be no smaller than 44px. Anatomically, it is difficult to click small buttons on mobile devices, regardless of the size of the user’s finger.
Do not try to design the buttons as large as possible to overcome this obstacle; just design them big enough. You can preview the prototype in your design tool to make sure it’s clickable. No doubt your app will be more accessible.
The most obvious issue when it comes to accessibility is color. It will be professional to make user tests on color selections so that color-blind people can use your app more comfortably. For testing, plugins are available for websites and design tools.
If your audience is of all ages, it is essential to design a more accessible app. What makes the design value is to improve the user experience without making the user feel it. When it comes to typography, ensuring accessibility is directly related to determining the font size. Suggested; integrating the font sizes in the app into the user’s system defaults. The user expects all typography changes made on his device to be automatically applied to your mobile design as well.
Each app store’s terms of acceptance are different. For example Apple and Android. Design details and principles may vary according to systems. While designing, you must meet the requirements of the app markets. First of all, the most precise information is in each market’s document.
In addition to all these, you can also design a custom app. The following subheadings are important for both custom and platform-specific app design;
The importance of typography was mentioned in accessibility. To elaborate, you can use the system’s default values; the font and sizes to make your app look like a native app. A special design can be applied to each app store. So you can use San Francisco for iOS and Roboto for Android as an example.
For eye familiarity, if you have chosen a platform-specific design, you can still use the icons offered by the platform. Recent developments have made icons usable like text. So now, icon weights can be variables according to text. In custom designs, you can choose to use a single icon family. Also, prefer to use icons that users are familiar with.
For example, icon designs such as share, menu, and arrow are forms that users can foresee and get used to. While the designs are different, most platforms carry similar metaphors. Using an unintelligible icon that is used only for differentiation will only confuse users.
If you are designing a native app, using the platform’s suggestions in colors provides a great user experience advantage. The use of the colors determined by the platform, especially in the feedback colors, helps you to present the user with user interfaces they are familiar with.
Motion & Interactions & Gestures
Users are familiar with the platforms they use. For example, Android users and iOS users have different habit muscles for the “back” action. While the Android infrastructure usually performs the back process with the help of a button, iOS users tend to use gestures. For this reason, there are tab bars, navbar, and drawer differences between platforms. In mobile design, it is necessary to know the platform-specific gestures and motions.
Interface inconsistent rules
Make your mobile app design look like a home. Imagine your user as a guest in your home. From the moment the user enters the app, he seeks a sense of completeness. If each room of your house has independent colors and design language, chaos will occur. The user is hesitant about being in the same house.
The same goes for your app. It is inconvenient that each screen is partially independent of the others. The design is also bad. Continuity isn’t just about the UI. Flows also require continuity.
In the mobile app, the user is constantly trying to take an action. In this sense, CTA elements are the most important elements. There are situations where action-oriented elements are the top priority. When paying, sending messages, pausing the playing song, etc. Users have to take an action.
For this, action elements such as buttons are used. For example, buttons leading to payment should attract the attention of the user. Think of this in ethical terms; Suppose you are selling a product within the app. When the user wants to buy the product in your app, he should not think “how” he can get it, the action elements should be as visible as possible -but unobtrusively. Please pay attention here; visible enough.
The reason for “enough” is so you don’t overdo it when trying to make the action elements visible. Making every action visible and overly conspicuous only creates confusion. It can be suggested to find a middle ground between clean design and remarkable design.
If you have the opportunity, you can track the clickable areas and collect user feedback.
A Poor First Impression
Huge optimizations are being made to stand out in the mobile app markets. At the same time, major marketing activities are carried out and money is spent. If you are also making such attempts, you know that even these stages alone are quite challenging.
The next challenge comes directly from users; most of the users use few of the apps they download to their smartphones. Among them, the apps that they actively use are even fewer. So many apps are not used again. Your app may be “one of the leftovers”. What to do; good first impression.
In some cases, long and pointless onboarding processes can bore the user. Let’s give examples under a few sub-titles for an effective first impression;
Teach the user
You may need to teach some features of your app to the user. The onboarding process is the opportunity for this. Try to present your features most clearly and understandably. Get the user to try your features for the first time with tutorials. With gamification, you can specify a task analysis. You can ask the user to complete the tasks in order. In the app context, user learning is related to the user experience.
Support complicated tasks with visuals
It is often tedious to describe properties with just text. It causes dismissing app context. It may be more memorable to describe what works and how it works. This includes motion. With small animations, you can show the action that the user needs to do on the screen. Thus, you present a visually supported tutorial. Gamification is a form of teaching that attracts the attention of users.
Disregarding App Development Budget
After determining the basic features of your mobile app, the price of app development will be approximately determined. When determining the price, the time required to develop the app and the quality of the app is taken into consideration. If you are not designing and developing the app yourself, a good mobile app design agency and professional app designers can be a problem-free solution.
One of the mistakes made is to cut the budget and expect quality work. But cheap budget works are often produced quickly and are fraught with errors; which means more cost. It will be much less costly to develop everything smoothly from the beginning.
Reducing development time will also indirectly reduce costs. Because design changes take a long time while in development. Before the app is developed, a developer-friendly file will speed up the development team.
When the cost is calculated, changes can be made to the app features or the way of the app. The concept of MVP can be followed in the apps that have just been released to the market.
Overcomplicating App Design
It is possible to mention the concept of MVP here as well. A mobile app that has just entered the market is more likely to be successful if it focuses on a single core feature.
Listening to the user, and testing is always important in new apps because listening to the feedback loop can pivot the app. As can be seen in the apps currently used and able to hold onto the markets, new features are shaped by users. In other words, the main goal of new apps should be to increase users, not add features.
Contrary to what everyone thinks, multi-feature apps or even super apps aren’t great. The concept of a super app is still debated. Many failed apps with many features make decision-making difficult. Difficulty making decisions causes disorienting user experience. Although the time spent in the app increases, it becomes more difficult for the user to reach the goal.
In short, it is not helpful to present every feature. Offering a good and user-experienced app is more ideal than being unique — and these apps have a higher success rate.
Under-utilizing App Beta Testing
Testing is so important that, if possible, the app should be tested by a small group before it goes on the market. There is almost no app that does not need testing. It would not be wrong to say that apps that are not user-tested failed apps.
Users may not use your app the way you expect. This gives you a preview of the future of your app. Sometimes it is revealed after these tests that the app will not be successful in its current form. It prevents spending more budget and allows you to realize your mistakes. So you can go for restructuring by reviewing your features.
One of the mistakes made in beta testing is in-team testing. The design team cannot take the right approach because it has a general command of the app. The team will give poor feedback. It can never replace an outside user. In testing, you need outside users to become beta testers.
Beta testing can seem like a waste of time. But it means cost savings. There is no better alternative to discover the shortcomings of your app and improve the details. It is not a waste of time in the long run, on the contrary, it is a time saver. There is no doubt that you will receive unexpected feedback.
Too many annoying notifications
It was mentioned how few of the apps downloaded to smartphones are used. It is important in this context to take attention and remind users of the app. Push notifications are used for this reason.
It is wise to ask for push notification permission after users are onboard to the app. Otherwise, they may not enter your app again and you will no longer have a chance to send a notification to access them.
Identifying key values and user experience, and pushing notifications frequently just to get attention will have a negative effect. It’s distracting and now the user ignores your app. It starts to treat the notifications you send as “spam”. It may even cause the user to uninstall your app.