30 Mobile App Best Practices: The Ultimate List

Proven best practices for your mobile app

mobile app best practices cover

The journey towards a successful mobile app is difficult. You don’t always know what to improve. The 30 following mobile app best practices make life easier for you.

Mobile App UX Design Best Practices

An intuitive UX Design directly translates to an increase in all product metrics and revenue. 

According to Forrester, investing in UX can result in an ROI of up to 9,900%.

Here are UX Design best practices that’ll improve the KPIs of your mobile app:

#1 Gather Demographic Data

Let’s start with the basics: 

Do you know in which countries, age groups, at what time, etc. your app is being used?

The demographic of your users should influence the UX of your app. 

demographics

Learn from this example by Audible

When Audible redesigned their app, they wanted to give it a modern look. The app had a gray design that appeared outdated. 

So the team decided to give the app a white and minimalistic look. The resulting design was gorgeous — but it didn’t fit to the user. 

Here’s why: A lot of truck drivers use Audible. They listen to audiobooks during their drives at night. The new white Audible app was so bright that it was distracting the drivers.

You’ll avoid mistakes like this if you gather demographic data of your users.

#2 Test your app on different device sizes & classes

There are hundreds of Android devices on the market. And if your app is working great on one device, it doesn’t guarantee that it’ll work on all other ones, too. 

Obviously, you can’t test your app on all of them — but you should test your app at small, medium, and large-sized Android phones.

#3 Analyze your funnel

Create a funnel to track where users drop out of the flow.

You can use tools like Firebase, Mixpanel or UXCam to do so.

Funnel Analytics
UXCam’s Funnel Analytics

#4 Understand gestures

Do you clearly understand which type of gestures the user should use?

Gestures

There are multiple gestures that users can perform on any given screen. 

You should track when users perform which gestures or if they might misuse a feature because they use the wrong one.

#5 Read heatmaps

Generate touch heatmaps to find out where users tap on each screen.

heatmap

#6 Use short forms

Keep forms as short as possible.

Studies show that the longer a form is, the lower the conversion rate will be. 

If you add a form field, make sure that it’s absolutely needed. 

You can also increase the conversion rate of your form by making it easier to fill out, for example using drop-down options instead of a text field.

#7 Use common symbols

Use common symbols that are easily recognizable. 

symbol best practice

If you’ve read the book “Don’t make me think”, you know why. Your users should be able to intuitively navigate your app. 

If they find new symbols and don’t know what they mean, it’ll confuse them. This results in a worse experience.

#8 Segment users

Segment users (new, one-time, returning, loyal, etc.) and compare their user journey.

segment users

Ideally, you want all your users to become power-users. How do you achieve that? First, take a look at 

#9 Think about the UI heuristics

The 10 usability heuristics is a list of characteristics for an intuitive user interface:

  1. Visibility of systems status
  2. Match between system and real world
  3. User control and freedom
  4. Consistency and standards
  5. Error Prevention
  6. Recognition rather than recall
  7. Flexibility and efficiency of use
  8. Aesthetic and minimalist design
  9. Help users recognize, diagnose and recover from errors
  10. Help and documentation

Read this article to learn more about the UI Heuristics.

#11 Think about UX writing

Is your copy clear and first to the tone of voice of your brand?

For most apps, copy is an afterthought. This results in texts like “ok” or “continue” that don’t add personality or feelings to the interaction with your app. 

If you reflect on the copy of your app, you’re already a step ahead of most other apps.

Mobile App Onboarding Best Practices

First impressions matter. Onboarding is a key moment in the user journey and can make or break your app.

Think about the following best practices and you’ll gain an edge over the competition.

#1 Lead to the AHA-Moment

After downloading, lead users to the most popular feature of your app to create an AHA-Moment.

The AHA-Moment is the moment when the user experiences the value of your app for the first time.

Often, your business and your users don’t share the same goals. As a business, you want to get contact information and payment details — but as a user, you just want to use the app. 

During the onboarding, cut the business goals as much as possible and lead users to the AHA-moment instead!

#2 Use Framing Techniques

Frame the onboarding process according to the AHA-Moment.

Read this article to find out more about framing.

#3 Explain Benefits

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Dropbox explains its benefits immediately

Lead users to the first commitment (e.g. sign-up, first post) by thoroughly explaining the value of your app.

#4 Create an Emotional Connection

Do you create an emotional connection with your user through product personality?

When we build an app, we are putting a part of ourselves out there and users on the end want to feel this.

They want to feel that there is a person on the other side. That’s why your app needs personality.

Slack’s Slackbot is a good example for this :

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Here are four ways to build product personality:

  • Tone of voice
  • Faces for your product
  • Attention to detail
  • Humor

#5 Greet the User

Do you greet your user instead of leaving him with a blank app? It’s an onboarding best practice to greet the user, e.g. with a “welcome!”

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#6 Give Quick Wins

Give quick wins. This increases the likelihood of users to come back and motivates them to continue going through your onboarding flow.

#7 Remove Unimportant Information

Remove unnecessary information that loses the users’ interest.

Your user has limited time and no patience to learn about every detail of your app. Instead, let him jump to the action quickly.

#8 Provide Examples

Provide sample data & texts to give your user a direction.

Mobile App Onboarding

#9 Do Proper Expectation Setting

Do you under- or oversell the value of your app?

It might be tempting to overpromise in your advertisements and app store descriptions. But try to be honest.

After the app download, you have the opportunity to start a relationship with your new user, and you don’t want to start with a disappointment.

Mobile App Analytics Best Practices

One of the most important mobile app best practices is a solid implementation of analytics and reporting. The next steps will set you up with a good base.

#1 Install Analytics SDKs

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How Analytics SDKs work

Analytics SDKs help you to perform sophisticated analysis of your app and prevent you from “flying blind”.

You can find a list of the top analytics SDKs here.

#2 Track Conversion Rates

Calculate the current conversion rates of your app.

This could be sign-up conversion rates, check-out process conversion rates, or micro-conversions. Which specific flows you want to track depends on the nature of your app.

Actively tracking conversion rates will give you a better feel for where your app is performing well and where it needs improvement.

#3 Set Goals

Set realistic, but ambitious goals, e.g. for the optimization of your conversion rate.

You can read this ebook to find out more about data-informed goal tracking.

#4 Optimize the Conversion Flow

Does your conversion flow have unnecessary steps?

Remove them and see if your conversion rate increases.

In some cases, it might even make sense to add steps to the conversion flow. For example, a confirmation about the benefits could motivate users to proceed.

#5 Visualize the User Flow

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UXCam’s Screen Flow

Did you fully visualize the optimal user flow?

You might want to revisit it with an analytics tool. You want to confirm that the flow that you thought of matches the way that users behave in your app. Often you’ll find some unusual flows that need to be fixed.

#6 Watch Session Replays

Watch sessions of successful power-users to understand how they use the app.

It’s an analytics best practice to not only focus on quantitative data, but also keep the qualitative data in your mind. Videos of user sessions can be a form of qualitative data that will make it easier for you to understand user behavior.

quantitative and qualitative data example

Fazit

Building an audience of regular users for your mobile app is complex and takes patience. We hope that the best practices mentioned in this article will make the road to success easier for you.

30 Mobile App Best Practices: The Ultimate List