All mobile applications share one commonality: they typically use visual design to interact with the user. UX/UI design is arguably the most important aspect of any mobile application: it doesn’t just change the way an application looks to the end user, it changes the way the application feels and functions. By reevaluating the goals of different user interfaces when designing applications, a simplified visual experience drastically expands the accessibility of your application and helps to attract a wider user base.

Use UX/UI Design to Set Yourself Apart

When it comes to mobile application development, it’s not always about reinventing the wheel. More often than not, it’s about analyzing and refining the existing wheels that have room for optimization. Robinhood is an application that does exactly this.

Robinhood is a new, commission-free stock trading application that touts an impeccably beautiful design. The design is clean, featuring a mint green, white, grey, and black color theme that inspires confidence and usability. The experience is blissfully simple: so simple, in fact, that nearly anyone can trade with it. This leads to the key point: Robinhood is able to bring in inexperienced traders with its incredibly simple design.

People who stumble across Robinhoods page in both the Play Store and the App Store will immediately find Robinhood’s design awards in 2015. Through design, the application has expanded beyond the audience of seasoned traders and allowed users without a large knowledge base to trade through its easy-to-use platform. At the moment, Robinhood carries a 5-star rating on both stores—all by changing the experience and interface of an application that has been designed hundreds of times prior and expanding the audience beyond its traditional confines.

Slimmer, Simpler, Faster

Unique design is the main visual selling point for a variety of mobile applications. UI is the place to show off the more creative side of your app, as well as show users what you want your app to feel like when they  use it.

Despite varying greatly in overall design, recent trends in mobile app design have reflected society around us. Similar to modern art and architecture, successful UI designs typically take advantage of a flat and simple design that emphasizes clarity and functionality. Instagram (pictured left), has significantly slimmed down its user interface since inception in 2010. The newest designs feature fewer visual elements and complications with all of the same information. By creating clean lines and flattening out the elements, Instagram’s facelift creates a more modern experience with improved performance and visual clarity.

UI Attracts User Base

User base depends on the purpose and function of your application, as well as the usability of your visual design. As UI is the only point of contact between your users and your application, it is vital to keep user experience and design at the forefront of the development process. Your brilliant new wearable with health tracking is only as good as the UI that users interact with.

Back in 2010, Watermark Consulting found companies that focused on improving UX made customers 14.4% more likely to buy again, 15.8% more reluctant to switch, and 16.6% more likely to make a recommendation. Today, in a mobile technology world where most app ideas have already been done in one way or another, UI remains the primary way that mobile applications can separate themselves from the overly saturated market.

Uncharted Territory

70% of 50+smartphone users describe their device as “freeing,” compared to just 66% for those aged 18-49. Unfortunately, current app developers fail to recognize just how to cater to this audience. There is an untapped market in the web and app development worlds. According to the Pew Research Center, 18% of older adults do not feel comfortable being left to navigate and learn a smartphone alone.

This may not be the sexiest place to develop a new  mobile application, but the opportunities could be significant. There are two main reasons why older adults are slow to adopt tech: it’s fast paced and complicated, and they don’t see a need for it in their lives. But what if we reimagined application design for this market with those two qualifications—the design must be intuitive and follow real world logic, and the application must do something truly desired and needed by older adults.

Optimizing for Your Target Audience

As the success of a mobile application largely depends on the user interface and experience, it’s vital to look at the target user to create the optimal experience and generate more downloads. Different user bases all have slightly different optimal interfaces. While teens and young adults may want a plethora of complex photo editing parameters, older adults may prefer a simple, easy way to access photos they’ve taken and share them with family members. By looking at your target user first, you can better plan what features to highlight with the design of the visual interface. Analyzing user base and optimizing design provides another opportunity to set your application apart from anything on the existing market.

Reaching Older Adults Through UI

Some app categories inherently fit the older adult audience better than the growing young adult market. 69% of adults track health parameters, but just 8% utilize a mobile tracking application for those purposes. With the growing market of wearable devices for health tracking, there is a growing market for applications that give older adults a reason to switch from pen and paper to their mobile device.

Obviously, digitizing the majority of daily tasks has its advantages: for example, nearly all mobile n
ote taking applications are searchable, backed up in the cloud, and shareable. If the reason to switch is already there, why aren’t people switching? The tech adoption process gives us an answer: the Pew Research Center found that 77% of older adults indicate they would need someone to walk them through using a new digital device. In this instance, the application of simple UI design is pretty obvious.

If you’re developing a health tracking application, the design of your interface should probably be a major priority. You shouldn’t be looking to reinvent what a health tracking application does, as older adults know the major advantages of digital health tracking already. However, you can reinvent the way people interact with those applications by working with innovative mobile app developers like us. The same could be said for a time management app, money management app, or any other mobile application: you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. You just have to reinvent how we interact with it.