Mobile app design is the process of developing the visual aspects of mobile user experience. Mobile designers combine knowledge about how mobile platforms and apps work, research on how people use mobile apps, and visual and interaction design principles.
The goal of mobile design is to relay critical information with a limited amount of content on a small screen, and ensure ease of finding additional information and functionalities within an app.
Mobile application marketplaces like Google Play and Apple Store are full of various applications for almost any purpose.
Apps are subject to fashion, and criticism, which results in an even greater challenge for mobile designers, who need to ensure that apps are beautiful, and visually engaging. Essentially, mobile design has to contribute to customer retention and engagement.
Designers also need to know how to maintain brand consistency across web and mobile platforms. Mobile design also involves planning around how, and where users will be using an app.
One of the largest challenges of mobile design is the most basic one – the small size of screens. Nowadays designers have to take many different screen sizes and device types into consideration. The right approach to this problem is designing for smallest platforms first, and using it as an entry point for building the design up for larger screens.
Apart from that, a good interface has to look the same (or similar) across different platforms – like Android, iOS, or Windows Phone.
Many important decisions have to be made in mobile app design, like, for instance, whether the application will use adaptive design (all changes handled by the back-end of the app), or responsive design (where changes are handled by the end-user’s display).
Touch screens force designers to take a different approach to navigation then in web design. The most important, and commonly used functionalities and content should be the easiest to access.
Talking about content, mobile designers don’t have a lot of place for it, so they have to keep it as concise as possible. Especially the number of non-critical images has to be kept to a minimum.