Mobile Application
4 min read

Guide to Designing an Engaging User Interface for Mobile Apps

By Akhil SundarMarch 20, 2023, 3 p.m. Application development company
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In this blog post, we attempt to discuss the basic points of mobile app user interface design. In addition to the key principles of mobile app UI design, we also briefly touch upon how to conceive and build requirements for the designs, and how they can be implemented. We also briefly discuss testing the design and further steps involved.

Mobile app interface design principles (also called heuristics) are very important and they can help to improve the UI design and accelerate delivery time. 

UI Design Principles

The six most common user interface design principles are the structure principle, the simplicity principle, the visibility principle, the feedback principle, the tolerance principle, and finally, the reuse principle are very briefly described below. 

The Structure Principle

The user interface should be organized purposefully and meaningfully based on clear models that are recognizable to users.

The Simplicity Principle

The design should be simple, communicate clearly in the user’s language, and provide good meaningful shortcuts to longer procedures.

The Visibility Principle

The design should present the required options for a given task in a manner without distracting the user.

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The Feedback Principle

The design should inform users of actions, changes of state, and relevant errors using clear, concise, and unambiguous language.

The Tolerance Principle

The design should be flexible, reducing the cost of further mistakes and misuse.

The Reuse Principle

The design should reuse both internal and external components and behaviors to maintain consistency with purpose.

Testing is done at each stage of the UX design process (after thumbnail sketches, wireframes, hi-fi mockups, and prototypes). UX design is a balance between the designer’s intuition and data. Here, user testing is the primary force in the decision-making process.

The Mobile App Design Process

You should consider prototyping the app using only messaging as the delivery channel to break down your service into smaller tasks that will be pieced together over time. Context is important when testing your mobile app.

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When testing the app it is important to have the user in their natural environment. And replicating where your users typically engage with their mobile devices is important. As an example, it could be on a chair, a sofa, or while walking in the room, etc. This will help you to get a better idea of what you are creating.

Building The Application

A UI designer works on a wireframe of a mobile app interface

  • Sketch out various app functions on paper. On finalization, use an appropriate tool to start designing the UIs. There are different tools available for the purpose. You need a simple flowchart to understand how the users make their way through the software. This will provide an understanding of how the different screens of the app interact with each other. 

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  • When a new user launches the app, it is vital to show them a screen that explains why their permission is required to push notifications to them as part of onboarding.
  • Once a user accepts push notifications, then the job is to send them directly to their home screen. Sticking to common UI design principles allows you the luxury of not needing a walkthrough at all. 
  • The user should be able to go anywhere from the home screen. There should be a way to get to the settings screen from the home screen.
  • Once the elements are set, it is all about placing the element where it belongs and adding color. 
  • You have to think about what your users will try to accomplish and focus on these user goals you have identified. Do not design and build features that are unlikely to be used on a mobile phone. Use the pencil and paper to get an initial idea of how you want to lay out all the UI elements.
  • The reuse principle will become more important as we fill out the various screen of the app. The fonts should be consistent with all of the other screens on the app (with the buttons and links also). 
  • Usability testing across devices is crucial as most experiences will shift between them. This complicates the ability to design consistently. 

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Testing The Designs

Using tools like Sketch Mirror helps you to view your sketch files on your phone (with the latest changes/updates). Incorporating applets can help to improve user experience. This is done without additional coding and so does not delay the development process. 

Two UI designers work on different mock-ups for an app UI

The five components that need to be thought about, planned, and established before testing mobile apps are:

  • Objectives of the test (the questions that the test seeks will answer)
  • Tasks that will be performed (natural interactions between the user and the app) 
  • Test documents (orientation script, and the pre- and post-test questionnaires), 
  • Test participants (user representatives) 
  • Test method to be used (recording, observing the test participants performing the tasks remotely)


Using basic UI design principles and a basic design process, you can quickly distill your ideas into solid UI designs.

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A mobile user interface (mobile UI) is the graphical display (touch sensitive usually) on a mobile smartphone or tablet that allows the user to interact with features, content, and functions of the app.

UI design focuses on anticipating what users will do with the mobile app and ensuring that the interface has elements that make it easy to access, understand, and facilitate those actions. UI has concepts from visual design, interaction design, and information architecture.

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