Google Releases 25 Principles of Good App Design

Written by Mark Coulstring

Web and mobile applications have become a trusted and efficient channel to deliver useful information and services to a worldwide audience. As a result, the market and attention of audience have become crowded. It has become imperative that organizations create mobile sites that are useful, relevant, and valuable.

In a new Think With Google report called “Principles of Mobile App Design: Engage Users and Drive Conversations,” Jenny Gove, Google’s UX Lead, outlines the guiding principles of mobile app design. With research help from AnswerLab, the report explored six categories of mobile design: app navigation and exploration, in-app search, commerce and conversions, registration, form entry, and usability and comprehension.

According to a study, marketers have spent approximately $3 billion on marketing through applications in 2015—an 80% increase from the previous year. Moreover, 200 billion apps are expected to be downloaded in 2017.   

Due to the massive adoption of smartphones, no one should be surprised that marketers have poured resources into creating experiences. These apps have carved out great places where marketers can foster long-term and deeply engaged relationships with their audience members and loyal customers.

While the mobile landscape has become a great opportunity, it has also become a very competitive landscape. As many as 25% of users open an app only once and never return. However, as once marketers get people to stay engaged, they stay engaged.

For users to stay engaged, the report sought out to look at how the UX of applications can make it easier to guide users through a task completion. Whether that was making a purchase or researching plans, the team at Think With Google and AnswerLab sought out the ways designers can generate delightful and useful in-app experiences.

The researchers at AnswerLab interviewed 119 Android and iPhone users, who used 100 mobile websites from several industries and businesses sizes. Each session with a participant lasted an hour, and each participant was asked to explore 4 to 7 sites on their mobile devices. Participants were asked to perform specific conversion tasks, and provide their feedback on these sites.

On the report’s first point, under the “App Navigation Category,” Gove and the team state that you should “Show your value of the app upfront.” Instead of putting in a button that says something like “click here to start,” the writers of the study urge designers to create a more nuanced and concrete example of an app’s value. “Engage users by addressing their tasks clearly, placing calls to action up front and center,” says the report. “Highlight your app’s key and new features in context at the appropriate place in the app so they’re a source of delight and interest rather than frustration and confusion.”

This point is only one of 25 that every designer should take into account. The aim of the report is to point how a brand can create an in-app experience that it was both useful and functional. “Apps can seamlessly guide users through task completion by providing great e-commerce facilities and integrating effective ordering and payment systems,” says the report. “Ultimately, the creation of an engaging app begins with attention to usability.”

If you are interested in learning more about the principles of mobile app design, check out Think With Google’s full report.

Mark Coulstring
Written by
Mark Coulstring
VP, User Experience, Seamgen
Product Design & Strategy Leader, Worked with CVS, Aetna, Oakley, KIA, Intuit, ViaSat, AARP, Experian, and many more.
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