Essential UX Tips to Build High-Quality iOS Apps

iPhone and iPad users depend on their devices for just about everything. So, it’s safe to say that successful mobile UX design for iOS apps is no small feat. Have you ever wondered how mobile app designers create stunning iOS apps that keep the user’s attention and fulfill their needs? Today we’ll explore just that! Keep reading to review the importance of mobile UX design, best practices for app designers, tips for building incredible iOS applications and resources to learn more. 

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What is Mobile UX Design?

“Mobile UX designs are interfaces for hand-held and wearable devices. Designers focus on accessibility and efficiency to optimize these on-the-go interactions.”

– Interaction Design Foundation, Mobile User Experience (UX) Design

Mobile UX designers are tasked with creating visual elements for mobile apps – employing user research, ui design and development skills to make products for mobile screens. Ultimately, what a makes mobile apps successful boils down to how users interact with applications and how intuitive, accessible, and easy-to-navigate the mobile design is. 

5 Best Practices for Mobile App UX Designers

a designer browsing a smartphone or designing mobile iOS apps

“When there’s a balance between functionality and emotion, the two amplify each other.”

– Mike Matas, American Interface Designer & Icon Artist with experience creating for Apple iOs and Mac OS X

Consider a user’s overall experience with any give mobile app. What grabs the user’s attention? Which design elements are necessary? What do mobile users expect? Does the user interface have enough white space and is the color scheme okay? There are so many things to consider when it comes to Mobile UX design! So, it’s safe to say designing for this industry can be challenging. 

However, with the right product strategy, professionals can streamline their design process to focus on what real users need. Below are 5 best practices to keep in mind – whether you design for Android or iOS users. 

1. Decide on your app development strategy. 

Always design with the user in mind. That general rule of thumb applies to every aspect of the app development process. . So, when designing mobile apps, be sure to ask yourself if the app needs to be native or native, then go from there.

  • Native:
    • Native apps are designed for a specific operating system, such as Apple iOS. However, native apps are not exclusive to iOS, as they can designed for Google Android OS and other operating systems. The underlining commonality is that these mobile applications have to adhere to the guidelines set by the OS they are designed for. 
  • Adaptive:
    • Adaptive app development includes the creation of multiple versions of an application to accommodate for different mobile devices. Alternatively, mobile app designers can employ a hybrid method to create apps that work across multiple operating systems.
  • Responsive: 
    • Whether you’re designing native or adaptive applications, when it comes to best practices, most experts recommend design that is responsive and that keeps mobile users in mind.

2. Keep accessibility in mind.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a UX designer working to create mobile interfaces for iOS devices or you’re a iOS developerwriting lines of code to power an app, it’s important to keep accessibility in mind. We’ve talked about the importance of accessibility before – it is the backbone of a good app! 

So, when designing for your end-users, keep in mind how accessible the mobile experience is for them. Ask yourself the following questions to start your assessment of your app’s accessibility:

  • Is the font size appropriate?
  • Will this content work for a horizontal scroll?
  • What elements work for most screen sizes?
  • Are there any buttons outside of the thumb zone?

3. Conduct user research and create a user persona.

When doing your initial research, do you create user personas?UX research is an essential part of any user-centered design process, so be sure to take this step seriously – whether you’re designing for Android users or folks who prefer iOS, the end goal is create something the user will find useful or enjoyable. 

4. Maintain consistency throughout the app design.

Consistency is a design principle that is fundamental to a mobile application’s success. So, it’s important for mobile UX designers to keep that in mind. While we’re certainly not suggesting that you hinder your own design style by mimicking other apps, it is important to employ consistency to avoid confusion for users. 

And consistency is not just limited to mobile UI design, out can be embedded into the very functionality of a mobile app. 

  • Visual consistency for mobile applications can include:
    • similar buttons, app navigation layout, typefaces, labels and other clickable elements across a mobile app
  • Functional consistency for mobile applications can include:
    • interactive design elements that function similarly across a mobile app
  • External consistency for mobile applications can include:
    • consistent marketing of a product across platforms or consistent app design across operating systems

5. Remember most app design is iterative design.

Even the best mobile app designers miss the mark sometimes or get caught up in the latest trends. So, keep in mind that mobile UX design is iterative and you may have to revisit some of the design elements in your application depending on the user feedback (or internal team critique) you receive. 

5 Essential UX Tips to Build iOS Apps 

designer drawing a picture and listening to music on their iPhone

Are you working on mobile app design for iOS devices specifically? If so, the best practices listed above still apply. However, there are a few more tips to keep in mind for the iOS user specifically. 

1. Remember, Apple’s rules always apply.

Want to make your iOS app available to Apple’s billions of users worldwide? The best way to do so is by making your mobile app available in the App Store and marketing it, of course. But, remember that to do so, you’ll to need to make sure your app is in compliance with the App store’s rules and community guidelines. 

Apple’s guidelines cover a variety of topics that impact the UX design, overall app development and the user actions on the app itself. So, check out their list of rules to stay on top of app safety, design restrictions, and legal concerns around user-generated content and data security. 

2. Reach a broader audience with backward compatibility.

It almost goes without saying that mobile app designers and developers need to stay on top of the latest trends and technology – especially when it comes to Apple’s line of consumer products. 

When designing for iOS, specifically, app creators can do their best to reach a broad range of users by making their mobile applications backward compatible. While it is 2022 and many folks are up to speed with the latest iOS release, some are not. Making your app backward compatible makes it more accessible for those whose iPhone pre-date the iPhone 6S. 

3. Explore functional minimalism in your design process.

Apple is a world renowned corporation known for its incredibly sleek design and exceptional technological innovations. So, when it comes to your iOS design, keep in mind the beautiful devices it will be displayed on. 

When folks think about Apple, luxury and intuitive design comes to mind. What do you want people to think about when they use your app? Consider exploring functional minimalism to provide users with the essential elements while maintaining a dynamic design with just the right amount of white space. 

4. Have a cybersecurity strategy in place. 

Apple is big on security, so an app design for an iOS device should have security measures in place – this is especially important for apps that involve data input from users. 

Consider ways encryption can be used to create a secure app and implement other security measure to keep users safe from scammers and your app safe from hackers.

5. Never forget who you design apps for: the user. 

“People depend on their iPhone to help them stay connected, play games, view media, accomplish tasks, and track personal data in any location and while on the go. As you begin designing your app or game for iOS, start by understanding fundamental device characteristics and patterns that distinguish the iOS experience.”

– Apple, Human Interface Guidelines

At the heart of an every iOS app is the user. So, consider them above all else. Consider their lifestyle, experiences, and how they manage their entire lives all from one screen. 

Host focus groups or employ the use of beta testers to provide feedback that can help you hone into who your users are. 

Resources to Learn More About Mobile App Design for iOS

Want to learn more about designing mobile apps for iOS or just in general? Learn how to gauge user actions, design for different screens, and condense complex ideas into a single screen with the resources listed below.

Apple’s Human Interface Guidelines

A comprehensive guideline for designing for iOS which includes best practices and additional design/development resources.

Apple’s iOS Developer Documentation

A guideline for developers to plan their iOS app. 

Josh Clark’s book Tapworthy: Designing Great iPhone Apps

A useful guidebook on how to design a great user experience for iOS applications.