Blog Mobile app UX design 101: Tips for succe...

Mobile app UX design 101: Tips for success

The average app sees 77% of its daily active users (DAUs) leave within the first three days after install, but this does not have to be the case if your mobile app UX is on point. Users’ initial perception of your app will make or break your app business. After all, there’s only one “first impression”. With this in mind, examine the information below when building or revamping your app to know how to design an app that will encourage user loyalty by delighting them.

What is the UX of an app?

Mobile app user experience (UX), or app UX, encompasses the entire experience a user has with an app on a handheld and wearable device—including content, sound design, and interactions. Accessibility and efficiency play major roles in mobile UX design, with the goal of providing users with easy-use and intuitive app navigation.

Why is mobile UX important?

Mobile app UX design is essential for apps if they wish to remain competitive. With smaller screen sizes, ever-shortening attention spans, and over seven million apps across both Android and iOS platforms, today’s mobile users demand fast, minimal-effort interactions from their mobile apps. Expectations only increase every year as technology advances and users know they can easily ditch one app for another, better-performing app.

Here are 4 reasons why app UX is important:

  1. Increases user loyalty: An effective UX app design increases user satisfaction, and therefore loyalty. Users should enjoy using your app and desire to return to it.
  2. Builds brand awareness: The aesthetic appeal and consistency of design and messaging in your app speak to the quality of your app and can serve to increase brand awareness among your target audiences.
  3. Boosts return on investment (ROI): A smooth user journey will contribute to your app business’ overall revenue. In fact, 9 out of 10 customers said they would make a future purchase from a brand if they had a relevant or helpful mobile brand experience.
  4. Drives app innovation: If you invest in excellent app UX design from the beginning, your developers won’t be fixing elements of your app to placate unimpressed users, but they will instead be creating new features, faster.

How does app UX differ from mobile app UI?

While both app UX design and app user interface (UI) design are concerned with a user’s interaction with an app, they differ in focus. Mobile app UI design centers on the branding of the app, covering the visual elements the user interacts with such as colors, typography, layouts, and buttons. In contrast, mobile UX design considers the entire user journey, using research to determine user goals and behaviors to map out an optimal user journey.

User experience (UX) design vs. user interface (UI) design table

It’s essential to take an approach that combines the two design practices—a mobile UI UX design strategy—to ensure your app’s user journey and branding are aligned for users to step into a delightful app ecosystem.

Key mobile application design elements to consider

As you brainstorm designing your mobile app or are considering revamping its design, review each of these mobile application design elements. Without one of the following, your app’s design may unwittingly turn off users from your app and increase the likelihood of churn.

Intuitive navigation

When designing the user flow for your app, ensure the structure is logical and that users can easily move from one step to the next. If steps are too complicated, users may lose patience and exit your app, never to return.

While users should feel completely in control of their actions, the setup of your user flow will heavily influence their choices and should therefore act as an “invisible hand”, guiding them throughout the app. Every screen they visit should have the same navigation bars—we’re talking fixed menus—and should show them their location within the app.

What is one of the most important aspects of mobile UX design?

One of the most critical elements of mobile UX design falls under intuitive navigation: one action per screen. As most mobile screens are small, it’s best practice to split steps by screens so that a user isn’t overloaded with information.

Clean design

Strive for a minimalistic design that opts for functionality. By keeping your mobile app UI design clutter-free, you increase the chance that users’ attention will be captured by the necessary elements and that they will take the desired actions. This will also positively affect your page loading time, which should be no longer than 3 seconds.

Hand positions

This element greatly impacts your app’s usability. Several years ago, researcher Steven Hoober performed a study and found that 49% of smartphone users held their phones with one hand, 36% percent used both hands but tapped with only one thumb or finger, and 15% used both thumbs.

Smartphone thumb zone positioning for mobile application UX design

In this regard, user behavior hasn’t changed much over the years and therefore, app developers should pay serious attention to user hand positioning and interactive elements.

Place common actions in the green zone, where users can easily use their thumbs to reach. Conversely, place negative buttons such as cancel or delete in the red zone where users will need to intentionally change the way they are holding their devices to reach.

Minimum input required, please

Related to intuitive navigation, everything a user has to do in your app should feel effortless. As a rule, when mapping out the user flow, remove any superfluous steps. If possible, minimize data inputs on forms. Instead of typing, can the user check a box? Can you offer them the option to transfer data from another application, like Gmail for convenience?

Headspace app example of good app UX by allowing easy sign-in via integrations

Additionally, to make data input as stress-free as possible, utilize a field check feature using special characters or colors to notify a user when a required field has been missed.


Maintaining the essence of your brand is essential throughout the user journey. When it comes to a mobile app, consistency should be implemented in the following:

  • External advertisement: In the app stores, in ads, and your website, the design should be the same as that within the app for a unified appearance.
  • Visuals: Buttons, labels, and typefaces should be aligned across the app.
  • Functional elements: All interactive elements of your app should operate similarly.


The importance of inclusivity in apps cannot be underestimated. Following accessibility standards reveals an app puts its users first and desires comfortable use for all.

Accessibility design elements considerations

Get these 5 mobile app UX best practices

In addition to incorporating the above mobile application design principles, app developers can benefit from these mobile app UX best practices. Below we review five tips and include mobile UX examples as well.

1. Prioritize features

Instead of flashing all possible features at your user, prioritize which ones have the most value for your user and give these the utmost focus—both in navigation and communication with your user.

Determine the core objectives of your app and then design your mobile user experience based on these, ensuring these features are delightful and intuitive. Later in the user journey, you can always introduce secondary features to encourage user loyalty by surprising them with additional functionality.

2. Personalize

With 58% of smartphone users feeling more favorable toward businesses whose apps remember who they are and their previous behavior, app personalization certainly matters.

In fact, we recommend hyper-personalization in which you utilize an opted-in user’s location, purchase and browsing history, and times in-app to inform your relationship with each user. This can include greeting the user by name when they open the app, offering recommendations, tailored push notifications and offers.

NY Times app showcases what is good app UX with it personalized section for users.

App personalization increases user loyalty and engagement, boosting your ROI. In fact, 88% of marketers note that app and website personalization has increased their revenue. Sounds good right? For more insights, check out Our top five tips for mobile app hyper-personalization.

3. Use hint text and placeholders

Hints are an excellent tool to guide a user to the type of answer you need them to provide in a form. Hint text disappears as the user provides their own input. This is most commonly used to let users know the minimum length of a password or character counts. It’s much cleaner to use hint text within a field than on the form itself, where instructions can crowd the screen.

Similarly, placeholders provide users context on what information will appear on a screen before they provide input. As an example, see the m-commerce UX that the brand Nike has implemented below to show users that any items they mark with a heart symbol will be added to the “Favourites” section of the app.

Mobile app UX example: Nike app's placeholder text

4. Factor in a cross-device experience

Whether you have multiple users sharing a single login for your app or your business boasts both an app and a website, make sure the transition across devices is seamless. All the design elements must match, whether the user logins in on their desktop, smartphone or tablet.

What is the trend in mobile app design 2023?

Responsive design is lauded to be the biggest trend in mobile app design this year. Related to a seamless cross-device experience, responsive design guarantees your users can access your app regardless of the device used—from app to website to tablet. This factor includes synchronization so that if a user starts an action in one device, they can pick right back up upon opening their account in another device.

5. Test, test, and test some more

You’ve designed the perfect user navigation, applied a UI UX app design eye, and are thrilled with how the app UX appears to work. Congratulations, but know that you’ve only just begun! Before launching your app, any areas of concern can be focused on during beta testing. Once you launch your app, you should perform routine testing on different user touchpoints in your app to uncover areas for improvement. Check out our guide on Everything you need to know about A/B testing for mobile apps.

Tip: In the beginning, we recommend you focus on optimizing for a successful app onboarding as the initial part of the user journey is crucial for your user retention rate. Does your mobile app UX design lead users through the right actions or can it be tweaked to better guide them through the necessary onboarding steps? Test to find out!

Bonus: What makes a good app design?

A good mobile app design can be summarized by the following:

  • Plenty of whitespace
  • Excellent mobile app UI
  • Strong data security
  • Responsive user support
  • Fast loading time and built-in integrations

Adjust helps you test the success of your mobile UI UX design

As previously mentioned, testing your app’s UX design is critical to its success. As a mobile measurement partner (MMP), Adjust helps over 100,000 app businesses track, analyze, and optimize their mobile attribution efforts and automate their budget and bid optimization.

As an end-to-end measurement suite, app marketers can also utilize Adjust to monitor the user journey, focusing on specific in-app actions related to their mobile app UX design. By testing and adjusting various aspects of their app UX, marketers can maximize their revenues.

If you’d like to see how Adjust can provide data-driven insights specific to your app business’ needs, schedule your demo now. Your app growth awaits!

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