Apps: Is it intelligent to choose function over design?
It’s the age-old question for app designers everywhere – function or design? In an ideal world, you’d like to have both, but often it becomes necessary to prioritize one or the other.
Both function and design are crucial aspects of your app and its success. However, your app’s functions serve as its foundation. If that’s not in place, your app isn’t going to succeed, no matter how beautiful the design is. Here are the primary reasons why it’s an intelligent choice to prioritize function in your mobile app development.
Users Want Simplicity
The average smartphone user spends the vast majority of their phone usage on mobile apps, and the majority of that time is spent on their favorite five apps. Users can install and uninstall apps in just seconds, and most aren’t willing to spend more than 5 to 10 minutes learning how an app works.
It’s a competitive marketplace, and to give your app a chance of catching on, users have to be able to figure it out quickly. Some of the most successful apps provide one primary function, they just provide it exceptionally well.
It doesn’t take long for a user to form an opinion on your app. You want users to catch on to your app right away, so they like it and keep it on their phones. You can accomplish that when you build a functional app that’s easy to use.
Function Keeps Users Coming Back
The most popular mobile apps all serve a specific purpose. Social media and instant messaging apps keep you connected with your network through your phone. Gaming and video apps provide entertainment whenever you want it. Map applications help you navigate to your destination.
Users don’t open an app over and over, day after day because it looks pretty. They do so because it helps them in their day-to-day lives. For your app to be part of somebody’s favorite five apps, it has to help them in some way, even if it’s simply by providing a few minutes of entertainment.
Google is one of the best examples of getting a huge user base by putting function first. Its home page has a basic layout and one main purpose, but people loved its simplicity and usefulness so much that it became the most popular search engine of all time.
The Benefits of Great Design
Function may be the most important aspect of your mobile app development, but your app’s design still deserves plenty of attention, as well. People are naturally drawn to things that are aesthetically pleasing. Function entices people to use your app, but design improves their overall experience when they do use it.
Considering the importance of function, it deserves the majority of your resources, especially if you have a limited budget or are on a strict schedule. However, the goal for your app should be a blend of function and design, where the app works well and has a design that enhances its functions.
Keep in mind that design doesn’t have to be complicated. A simple design can still be nice to look at and work perfectly for your app. In fact, what’s most important is that your app’s design feels natural, and what feels natural depends on the type of app you’re developing. For a high-octane mobile game, great design may be cool, flashy graphics. For a messaging app, a natural and effective design may be a simple layout that doesn’t overpower the experience.
The popularity of the iPod is a testament to the power of not just good design, but good design that complements the function of the product. The iPod wasn’t the first MP3 player, it didn’t have the most storage, and there were actually several high-quality devices manufactured by Apple’s competitors. Despite that, the iPod became by far the most popular MP3 player available. It did so through an innovate design that wasn’t overly complicated, but looked good and made the device easy to use. Rolling your thumb along the wheel was intuitive and a quick way to scroll through all your music.
The Intelligent Decision
Overall, it is an intelligent decision to choose function over design – in the first stages of your mobile app development. At that point, it’s all about what purpose your app will serve for its users, and that means function is king. That doesn’t mean you need to discount design, though. As you move further along in your development process, building a design that fits your app and its functions is well worth your time.