App Design 101: 8 Mistakes You Should Never Make

Designing a mobile app from scratch can be a roller coaster ride full of ups and downs if you don't know what you are doing, but anyone with a little bit of app development knowledge can design a basic app. However, when you are trying to build an application that provides in-depth support, performs complicated tasks, or has the intuitiveness to do something that no other application is doing, things start to get a little complicated.

It doesn't matter what type of app you are creating, the designing phase is one of the most critical stages of app development, as users prefer apps that are not only functional, but fun to use too! To ensure that the app you create is both aesthetically pleasing and easy to interact with, it's important to keep a few things in mind and be cognizant of mistakes that could potentially ruin the user experience. While there is no single formula that everyone should adhere to, there are some obvious things you should avoid.

The first thing to keep in mind is that most designers and developers are working so closely on a project that they often miss mistakes that are right in front of their eyes. It's important to have an anchor point when designing apps, so here is a brief overview regarding the app development process and some of the most common mistakes that both amateur and professional developers make when designing an app.

A woman at a table full of Mediterranean food using one hand to maneuver through an app on her smartphone.

Ignoring 'One Hand Operation'

One-hand mode, or one-hand operation, is an exceedingly useful feature that must be a part of every app design because it allows users to reach the status or action bar of their app without having to stretch their app or use their other hand. Most of us use our thumb to operate apps, and this is why you should keep 'the rule of thumb' in mind when developing apps.

How to Overcome This Mistake

To make sure that your app is user-friendly, you must perform thumb scanning before designing your app. It will help you figure out and map all the areas where the thumb can reach so that you build your app accordingly.

A person wearing an Apple Watch working out a complex screen flow for their application.

Opting for Complicated Interface

Occasionally, app developers will get so lost on the backend of an app that they completely forget about how the app is going to look. It doesn't matter how much functionality you put into your app—if your users experience confusion while interacting with your app, they are going to leave negative reviews about it. So, you need to make sure that you opt for a user-friendly interface that is simple yet aesthetic.

How to Overcome This Mistake

The simplest and most viable solution to this problem is to make sure that your design elements are not cluttered. Design a nice and clean UI with a minimalistic approach so that users don't feel confused every time they open your app.

Sketched and painted app screens in three different aesthetics on white paper.

Inconsistencies in Aesthetics

A fundamental concept that's essential to your app design is a consistent and uniform aesthetic. It's important to strike the right balance between the visual and functional aspects of your app so that the interface looks aesthetically pleasing while the backend offers the users what they want. Designing and building an app without something solid in mind at the beginning of the process can make your app look pieced together and unprofessional.

How to Overcome This Mistake?

Nailing down your aesthetic early on in the design process will create a more cohesive brand image and provide you with a blueprint for any additional elements that you may add to your app down the road. If you try to tweak things in the middle of the development phase, any new design concepts are likely to create some level of inconsistency in your app.

Three people building out a highly functional wireframe with multi-colored sticky notes and illustrations.

Implementing Too Many Features

A common mistake that many app creators commit is overcomplicating things for themselves. With the hope of making their app truly unique, they may focus on adding too many features without paying enough attention to design. Before you add functionality to your app, you must stop and ask yourself what value it is going to provide to your users.

How to Overcome This Mistake

While you should always aim to provide your users with something unique, it should never be done at the expanse of the app design. Before including any functionality in your app, it's important to bring these requests to your designer so that whatever new feature you're looking to implement won't clutter your app.

A dark frame containing icons for Spotify, Discord, Instagram, Twitter, Netflix, TikTok, etc.

Mimicking the Competition

While researching your competition is an essential part of the ideation and development phases, it's important to maintain your own, separate application identity. Copying too much of someone else's design solutions may make potential users view you as a copycat app and choose to go with the original application instead.  

How to Overcome This Mistake

The best way to tackle this issue is to look at your competitors as inspiration for improvements that can be made, not as necessarily as a blueprint for what your product should look like. Your main focus should be on developing your own product that is unique and provides the user with a better experience than your competitor.

A person sketching out a website wireframe on a tablet with a gray stylus.

No White Spaces

As we mentioned previously, a cluttered interface leads to an overall negative user experience—this brings us to the topic of the white, or empty, space around the icons and elements in your app. Your user interface should always contain a good ratio of micro and macro white spaces because it helps guide the user through the content of your app. Unfortunately, some app creators will sacrifice white space in order to provide more information or details on a screen. Although generally done with the best of intentions, it ends up hurting the user experience more than it helps.

How to Overcome This Issue

The best way to overcome this challenge is to ensure that there is an open line of communication between designers and developers so that feedback can be readily exchanged. White space isn't just empty space. It can be used as a powerful designing tool to intuitively shift user attention from one element to the next and is especially helpful in highlighting any call-to-actions (CTAs) or discounts.

A man sitting at a table with others giving feedback about an app screen flow.

Moving Forward Without Feedback

If you're looking to attract a diverse audience, it's important to get a diverse perspective during the design process, too! Whether you're a designer, a developer, or someone answering to company stakeholders, it's important to have a system in place for gathering feedback. Clear feedback greatly improves an app's usability as it allows developers and designers to collect valuable insights that help them create a better experience for a wide range of people. Despite the immense value of this step in the process, many will skip it in lieu of getting their app to the app store faster.

How to Overcome This Issue

Form a beta testing team for your app early in so that they can be called on to provide you with feedback at every stage of the design and development process. When putting this team together, it's important to stress the necessity of unbiased and open opinions. Remember, it's always better to get critical feedback in the beginning stages of design and development than to get it after your app has launched!

A woman sketching out an intricate mobile app wireframe.

Disregarding Your Target Audience

Last but not least, a major mistake that some make is not clearly defining their target audience and their wants and needs. You might be tempted to develop an app in response to a growing trend, but it's important to make sure that you're adding something better to the market or solving a problem in a unique way. Don't just jump into something because someone else has found success in it.

How to Overcome This Issue

Before you enter any market, it's important to do some research first. If you have an audience already, send out a detailed survey to get a feel for what they may want from an app. Building an app properly can take a decent amount of time and money, so it's best to have a clear vision heading into the design and development process. Find a problem in need of a solution you can provide and build an app that you know your audience is going to want to use.


Design is a crucial phase of the app building process, but a well designed application is well within reach as long as you follow a few guidelines. Remember to always do your research, start out simply, get feedback early and often, improve upon what is already available, and never lose sight of the wants and needs of your target audience.

Looking for a little extra support? An experienced app development agency like Crowdbotics can help you identify the best features for your app. We can also provide you with an expert network of developers and designers to work with you every step of the way to drive your project from concept to production in no time at all. Get in touch with us today for a detailed quote and build timeline!

Originally published:

May 3, 2021

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