Best Practices for App Interfaces

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The quality of the user interface can have a great impact on the way you experience an app. Take a look at your favorite apps and you will start to see patterns in the way they they are laid out and allow you to interact. By following certain guidelines these apps help support you as the user and ensure that you will have the best experience possible.

When building an application it’s important to keep these best practices in mind. These guidelines are not hard and fast rules, so feel free to bend or break them if you feel your application will benefit.

Good Content For Your App

The content that the app provides (Such as text, photos, or video) are the primary reason you are using it. If the content being presented to you is not engaging there is no reason for you to use the app or to return. This also applies to user generated content and the options you provide for the person using the app. If the way they can create content is limited or produces a poor end product, they are more likely to abandon it entirely.

Be sure to consider the balance of the content you are exposing to the user. Presenting too much content may overwhelm the user, while too little forces them to dig for the content they want. Aim for a comfortable middle ground that provides enough information at a glance to make a decision.

Context For Your App

Wherever a user is in your app they should have context for where they are, where they are going, and where the’ve been. Giving the user context will keep them from being confused.

Their current location helps them frame the content they are seeing and frees you from being overly descriptive. For example, a headline of “2014 Archive” lets you know that everything is from the year 2014 and allows you to remove the date from each piece of content below.

To help users move forward, clear instructions and calls to action should be used to remove any doubt or questions they may have. A simple button labeled “Read More” provides a clear indication as to what comes next and what action you’re expecting a user to take.

Their previous location let’s them know information about the parent content as well as a quick way to jump backwards. On iOS apps it is common to have a back button in the upper left that includes a label for the previous screen. This gives the user quick indication of where they’ve been and a consistent spot that allows them to go back.

App Consistency

By keeping elements of your app styled and located in a common place you can create familiarity for your users. When they start using your app regularly this familiarity will help them to correctly assume what to do and where to look for things.This consistency has an added bonus of making your app look more organized and professional.

Apps With Great User Experiences

The following apps do a great job of following these best practices to provide a fantastic user experience. Check them out and think about how it adheres to each guideline.

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