Designing a mobile app and designing a website are two entirely different animals.

That’s why it’s not so surprising to find experienced affiliates making some pretty basic mistakes while navigating this new digital terrain.

In a recent posting on Mashable, blogger Ryan Matzer took a close look at some of the most common mobile app design mistakes and how to avoid them.

If you’ve gone from asking, “What are mobile apps,” to actually designing mobile apps, these tips are worth a look.

1. Don’t Do Anything Without a Flow Chart

Mobile apps are confined to some pretty tight spaces, so navigation and flow are extremely important. Designers who plunge into their app without a clear sense of how the pieces fit together could wind up with a confusing mess on their hands.

Matzer also recommends keeping key functionality features near the top levels, so that end-users don’t have to hunt around for them.

2. Keep an Eye on Development Budget

Designing an app usually involves a designer and a developer to help move it from mobile dream to mobile download. Dealing with these folks can cost a lot of money, especially when developers run into challenges. Appreneurs can make sure that developer time is used effectively by prioritizing, or at least balancing, function and design.

3. Go High Resolution to Low

You can always make a high resolution image into a low resolution image, but going the other way is tough. That’s one of the reasons you should always start with the high res images and work backwards. Matzer also recommends using vector images over bitmaps.

4. Plan for Big Fingers

How many times have you used an app that made you feel like you had sausages for fingers? Making your hit area big enough to fit the average finger (which is about 1.6 to 2 centimeters wide) makes your app more appealing whether you’re developing for Windows mobile, Android or iOS.

5. Keep the Animation to a Minimum

Do you love those Flash intros that some websites still insist on using? Probably not. So why would you want excessive animated intros on a mobile app? The longer end-users have to wait, the less likely they are to actually use the app.

6. Blank Screens = Doom

End users expect a little load-up time when opening an app, but they won’t tolerate blank screens. Give them a something to look at while they wait – just don’t make it a long animation!

7. Don’t Copy Other Operating Systems

You would never attempt to install iOS in an Android handset, so why would you design an Android app to be the same as an iPhone app? Keep your target market in mind when designing apps. (And with more and more people using Android phones, chances are that’s what you’ll wind up designing.)

8. Don’t Overstuff the Screen

Today’s smart phones can handle a lot of graphics, but they’re still nos PC’s. Take a look at your designs on the devices you’re targeting before launching. (You can even use an emulator in a pinch.)

9. Think About Others

The vision in your mind might not be the same vision your end users realize. Do a bit of testing to make certain that everyone is seeing the same thing you’re seeing.

10. Gesture – But Not Too Much

Smartphones can do amazing things with gestures (a.k.a. swipes) but don’t use them too much. Mobile apps need to serve a purpose and relying too much on gimmicks obscures that purpose every time.

Have you been working on mobile apps? Share your tips in the comments section below.

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