There is a trend in some corners of the Internet to disparage design, as if it was just about looking pretty, as if looking pretty was a bad thing. This happens when developers and users of unattractive apps defensively argue that their app is powerful and full of utility, not to be mistaken for some sort of toy. It is as if they believe that an app either has to be ugly with great utility, or beautiful and useless.
This kind of thinking demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of what design really is. Aesthetics is just one aspect of design. Iconography, intuitiveness, and UI make all the difference
This is even more important for business apps. Unless you are the IRS, customers do not have to use your service. They have options, usually very good ones. If you expect to do business on a mobile device you have two choices. You can hire someone, or a team of someones, in-house to design distinctive, simple to use, yet powerful apps for your business, or you can outsource it to a company like Kony, which specializes in producing enterprise mobile apps.
Here’s what to look for in your end-result:
Six tips from Apple on how to create better app icons
An icon is more than just a small image. It is the representation of your company’s presence on your customer’s mobile device. It needs to be clear at a glance what that icon represents. People should not have to take extra seconds to figure out what app they are looking at. It should say it all in the icon.
When it comes to aesthetics, the icon is where the most attention should be paid. Ugly icons will keep your prospective customer from even opening the App Store description. Worse still, unattractive apps are among the top three reasons apps are rejected from the App Store. Pay attention to your icon design. Your customer, not to mention your friendly App Store curator, most certainly will.
When something is intuitive, it works the way it looks like it should work. There is nothing to figure out. It is like an onomatopoeia. Simply put, that is a word that means what it sounds like it means. According to ConversionXL:
Design is intuitive when users can focus on a task at hand without stopping even for a second.
When your clever design draws the user’s attention to the clever design, then it wasn’t so clever. Intuitive design is boring and not very memorable. That is not to say that it is ugly. Just that it gets out of the way. The real purpose of the user coming to the site should be the only thing the user remembers–what needed to get done, got done.
That can be a problem if the real purpose of the sight is to display third-party ads. On sites like that, the content can be hard to find, and site navigation can be a nightmare.
Beyond The Button: Embracing The Gesture-Driven Interface
There was a time when we only talked about the graphical user interface. That is because a nice user interface was to be seen and not touched. Today’s smart devices are intended to be held and manipulated with bare fingers. Styluses need not apply. To create great IUI elements, the app has to be conceived as a touch-only experience. Many apps were designed as if they were made for the PC, the touch layer being slapped on after the fact.
The pull-to-refresh gesture that has become ubiquitous in the app world was brilliant precisely because the app in which it debuted was reimagined as a touch-only experience. Brilliant app design requires one to think about the app based on the form factor by which it will be used. When coders step away from the mouse and keyboard to consider the app, great things can happen.
All of these things are more important than the pretty face of mere aesthetics. But let’s face it. All the power, IUI and simplicity in the world will not mean a thing if the unattractiveness of your app discourages people from taking a second look at it. We use the apps we enjoy more than the apps we need. Don’t let a poorly designed app get between your potential customer and your brilliant idea.