As of mid-2014, there were over 1.3 million Android apps. That creates a lot of competition. App developers can make their designs more successful by following these seven tips.

Design for the Device

Design for the Device

Image via Flickr by pittaya

Most of today’s smartphones and tablets have features that aren’t included in desktop computers. When you look at any of these new smartphones, you’ll see that they have:

  • Cameras
  • GPS
  • Touchscreens
  • Contact management

Design your app so that it takes advantage of these features. If, for instance, you’re making a video-editing app, use the mobile device’s GPS feature to insert tags into the video. If you’re building a social-media app, use the smartphone’s contacts to help users connect with their friends.

Build Apps that Work on Multiple Screen Sizes

Build Apps that Work on Multiple Screen Sizes

Manufacturers release new Android devices every year. That means you need to make your app flexible enough so it works well on multiple screen sizes.

Some developers make apps that support multiple screens. That’s not enough. You need to build your app so that it can optimize each user’s experience on different screens. That might sound like a subtle difference, but it has a big impact on the user’s experience.

Android offers a few lessons to help you make an app that supports different screen sizes and screen densities. If you don’t already know how to optimize for multiple screens, these tutorials will get you started.

Keep Navigation Simple

Since many people use Android apps on smartphones with small screens, designers should keep navigation as simple as possible. Remember that most users are tapping icons with their fingertips. Keeping the navigation simple will help them use the app without getting frustrated. If a user accidentally hits the wrong icon, he or she may give up and search for a comparable app that’s easier to use.

Take Advantage of Color

Colors can make your app more attractive and functional. They help users identify buttons and icons so they can navigate easily. This usually works best when you choose a different color for each icon.

Colors can also be used to build a brand identity for your development company. If your apps become popular, users may learn to identify your work by how you use colors.

You can download swatches from Android to help build an attractive app that makes the most of color.

Think About Real-World Uses

It’s easy to focus on the wrong aspects of design when you’re using a computer screen in a perfectly lit office. Remember that many of your users will need to access the app in less-than-ideal environments. Think about how someone would use the app while standing on a crowded commuter train, rushing to a meeting, or standing on a sunny sidewalk.

Always Beta Test

Ideally, you will test your app on as many Android devices as possible before you release it. Realistically, you probably only have access to a few devices. Even if you get co-workers and friends involved, you will only test the app on a dozen or so devices.

Beta testing will help you get feedback from early users so you can improve your design before releasing it to everyone.

Always let users know that they are downloading beta versions. You don’t want them to think they have a finished product. Also, ask them to send suggestions so you can make the final version as good as possible.

Use Suggestions to Update Your App

The Google Play store makes it easy for developers to read feedback from users. Visit your app’s page regularly to see what people are saying about it. In many cases, users will have suggestions that can improve the app.

You can keep updating your app as often as needed to keep up with suggestions and with new versions of the Android operating system. You don’t want to update too often, though. That can annoy users. If people keep making the same suggestion, you know it’s time to make a change.

Using these tips should help you build user-friendly apps that will become more popular. Which tips do you think will help your app thrive most?