3 Mobile UI Design Tactics to Improve Retention and Create Happy Users


By Matthew Cordasco, MyCrowd QA

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When it comes to satisfying mobile app users, looks matter. While power users might be willing to navigate a complicated user interface to complete certain tasks, most people like to use apps that are sleek, intuitive and designed with simplicity — not complexity — in mind.

If your mobile app’s user interface is confusing or difficult for people to use, you could be losing a huge percentage of your target audience. Worse yet, your UI could lead to users leaving bad reviews for your app in the App Store or Play Store, limiting its ability to grow.

UI design plays a huge role in keeping users comfortable and happy with your mobile app. Consider the fact that judgments on website credibility are 75% based on a website’s overall aesthetics and 88% of online consumers are less likely to return to a site after a bad experience.

An excellent UI combined with the right value proposition will keep users coming back for more. A bad UI, even with a great value proposition, will actively repel and annoy your target audience.


If you’re in the process of developing a mobile app, it’s essential that you apply the lean methodology principle to constantly improve your UI design by showing it to real customers and gaining their insights. With a great user interface, you’ll retain more of the users you earn, generate far more positive reviews and benefit from word of mouth that makes growing your app’s audience easier.

Below, we’ve shared three proven mobile UI design tactics that you can use to create familiarity and comfort, retain users and generate powerful word of mouth that helps your app grow.

Design for users, right from the beginning

At what point in your app’s development process do you start to think about usability? If your answer is anything other than “right from the beginning,”
there’s a very good chance that you aren’t giving UI design the attention it deserves.

The best mobile apps — the apps users return to again and again — combine an intuitive user interface with serious value. Facebook provides a great service and wraps it up in an intuitive, simple UI. Google offers a great search engine with an unbelievably simple user interface.

google UI

These apps succeed not just because of their value, but because of their design. They make use of principles like goal-driven design, where the app itself is built not around convenience, but around the needs of users.

Start your UI design process by creating user personas. Who will use your app? What do they need from your app? Once you understand your target audience, create specific goals for each user type and customize your mobile app’s workflow so that their needs are met.

Then, make your app usable. Use easily understood signifiers so that users don’t need to think about what each element of your user interface does. Provide feedback so that users know their actions have results. Make your app so simple and usable that it’s instinctive and learnable.

UX Booth’s guide to interactive design offers more information on designing your app around its users. By focusing on real people from the beginning of development, you can avoid most of the common usability mistakes that hurt retention, usability and user satisfaction.

Learn as much about your users as possible

How well do you know your audience? Analytics tools like Mixpanel make it easy to study how users interact with your app, giving you the ability to find and fix usability issues that would otherwise go unnoticed.


If you’ve already released your app and want to improve usability, dig into your analytics data to discover where users abandon ship, where they spend more time than expected and where the most common problems occur.

If you’re still in the process of developing your app, make user feedback a major component of your decision making process. Create personas and use user scenarios and experience maps, as explained in this UX Pin guide, to make informed UI design decisions.

If you don’t have the time or budget to interview your prospective users directly, use a tool like MyCrowd to get real user data on your app’s usability. A quick, simple usability test — done by a diversity of real testers who test your site or app and offer a fresh and objective perspective on what UI works or does not work — is often all you need to discover and fix serious usability issues that could affect your user retention.


Your app’s users determine whether or not it’s a success. As a result of this, their feedback is invaluable. Build user feedback into your UI design process right from the beginning and you’ll avoid headaches, costs and wasted time revising your user interface after your app’s release.

Make users feel comfortable with your app

Great user interface design creates a virtuous circle for user retention. As users return to your app again and again, they grow more comfortable. As they grow more comfortable, their desire to use your app again increases. The end result is a massive win-win for retaining users.

The first goal of your app’s user interface should be to make users feel comfortable. As pointed out in this Treehouse blog post, this means using familiar UI patterns that reduce confusion for your users, all while avoiding introducing confusion through unfamiliar UI elements.

Instead of being innovative about your mobile app’s design, focus on using familiar UI patterns that your users already understand. Layer your own creativity on top, but never do so in a way that could potentially create confusion or difficulty for users.

It’s great to be an innovator, but not when doing so alienates or confuses your users. Innovate with your business model, product or service while designing your app’s user interface to make users feel as comfortable and familiar as they do within their own homes.


Is your mobile UI due for a redesign?

A great user interface does more than just make your app look good. When your app is easy to use and totally intuitive, users are eager to open it again and again, share it with their network and give you positive reviews on the Play Store or App Store.

Is your mobile UI due for a redesign? If you rushed through user interface design when you first launched your app and haven’t updated it since, consider redesigning your UI with users first to improve usability, increase retention and make users feel more comfortable with your app.

Matthew Cordasco is CEO of MyCrowd QA, a self-service QA testing platform for companies to test their mobile apps and software.

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