7 things you can’t forget when prototyping your mobile app

It’s exciting when you decide to start building your mobile app. The team is full of ideas and everyone is ready to start. But there’s planning to do.

The problem is, once you open your favorite prototyping app it’s tempting to just add every and any idea you can come up with. This can lead to a confusing prototype for the app developers, huge app development delays, and a poor user experience.

So it’s important to keep a few things in mind before diving in.

Mobile devices aren’t desktops

Don’t try to squeeze every element you have on your website into your mobile app. You aren’t designing for a large screen, you are designing for thumbs. If you can’t easily tap an element with your thumb, make it bigger.

This applies to form buttons, back buttons, toggles, images, links, or anything else your mobile app users need to tap on in your mobile app.

Choose 1-2 important features at first, nothing more

With mobile apps, it’s all about focus. You want to create app prototypes with just one or two main features in mind. To do this, make your mobile app prototypes more content centric.

Forget about all the extras you have on your website like banners and large videos. They just don’t work well on mobile. Make your mobile app all about your content and you’ll be surprised at how much screen real estate you have left.

Make it beautiful

Once your prototype features are flushed out, go back and focus on making it beautiful before sending it to your app designers and app developers. Unfortunately, mobile app users are pickier than others. Basic, ugly designs don’t cut it in the highly competitive app stores.

This is a really good incentive to make your first and second app release features barebones. Think about it, you can always add features later, but you don’t get a second chance at making a great first impression.

Also remember, good design is not only pretty colors and cool images. When you prototype, keep things like button size, how users return to the main screen, and screen load times in mind.

One Screen, One Function

One of the worse things you can do is try to fit multiple functions on one screen. Remember that mobile app users are using their mobile devices completely different than your website users.

For instance, website users are more focused, typically sitting down at a desk, and looking for long form content. Your mobile users on the other hand are distracted, on the go (on a bus, in their car, eating out at a restaurant), and looking to do something quickly. You aren’t going to capture your mobile app user’s attention as long as your desktop users. It’s important to refine the way your app helps users get things done.

Don’t forget to plan your “extra” screens

In the rush to launch an app quickly, a lot of teams unknowingly make incomplete app prototypes. A lot of times, even when the mobile app prototypes are well designed and plan for the main screens, they seem to forget the “extra screens”.

What do I mean by “extra screens”? The extra screens are actually not extra at all. They are necessary to have a complete app. Anything like error screens, settings screens, error popups, fall into the category of extra screens.

Forget about these screens and you end up with rushed and poorly designed “extra” screens users hate.

Match usability with the actual device

Don’t alienate your mobile app users with unusual app elements. Make your app feel intuitive and familiar. When prototyping try to remember what your mobile app users typically experience when they perform specific actions.

Let’s say you’re building an iOS app. If your iOS users are used to a spinner after performing an action, make sure your app also uses the spinner the same way.

Keep reality in mind

Sometimes our imagination and ideas can get ahead of what’s technologically possible on certain platforms. To make sure you aren’t making up impossible or hard to program features in your prototype, keep everyone in the loop. This will help ensure that your prototype is realistic and can actually be programmed and designed as planned.

So what are some of the things you forget when creating your mobile app prototypes? If you are on the receiving end of mobile app prototypes, what have you found others leave out?

Let me know in the comments below.

Ashli is the Co-Founder at Joppar. We make mobile app tools that help mobile app teams launch and manage their apps easier. Get more free tips on optimizing your mobile app on our website.

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