5 benefits of great mobile app UI/UX design

11 min read
July 29, 2022

What’s the one key ingredient for app success?

Many would say it’s the core app idea or innovative features.

But we would argue that UX is at the top of the list.

Indeed, studies have shown that 90% of users won’t return to an app or site because of bad UX alone. Conversely, even minor UX improvements can raise your KPIs by over 80%.

That makes sense. You might have the greatest app features in the world, but if people can’t use it properly, it will still fall short.

Here are some other benefits of great mobile app UI and UX design that could motivate you.

Creating a good first impression

A good UX design can help create that critical first impression that gets users coming – and staying – with your app.

This is important to keep your retention rates up. Take a look at the averages from last year, according to an Apptentive study.

2021 retention benchmarks

Source:  Apptentive

This proves that more and more developers are employing strategies to retain a larger percentage of their users. And more often than not, great UX and UI design play a prominent role.

You only need to look at this British study for proof. It found that 94% of people’s first impression is based on the app or website design. Only 6% was about the actual content.

Here’s more proof from a study by eConsultancy. It might be about e-commerce websites, but it’s relevant to mobile apps as well.

study results on shopping with a retailer chart

Source: CXL

Notice how a site’s design is critical in fostering a new user’s trust. The other highlighted items (having a clear contact number and address) is also good UX practice.

All of this is rooted in human psychology.

People always make snap judgments, whether they’re evaluating a person or an app. And most of it is based on appearance.

Making a good first impression chart

Source: Style Yourself Confident

Why is this so?

Well, studies show that it takes only seven seconds for people to form a first impression about a business.

At that speed, the brain needs to use visual shortcuts and stereotypes to judge something.

For example, color psychology tells you that blue is perceived as an efficient and trustworthy color.

If you use color in your app’s design, it can be a way to instantly convey that your app is secure.

User verification screens in fintech app design

Source: Merix Studio

But more than hacking human psychology, good UX design is simply about respecting the user.

It communicates to the person that you value their user experience.

Having a strong UX in the beginning will pave the way for that expectation moving forward. Just make sure you’re consistent.

For example, Duolingo’s onboarding instantly communicates the whimsical and helpful nature of its UX and UI design.

That’s a good first impression for an app trying to make learning languages (considered hard or boring) accessible and fun.

Duolingo screenshot 3

Source: Duolingo

The bottom line is that UX and UI design is the key strategy for helping users decide if you’re worthy of their time.

Over time, if your UX design is consistent, it can even lead to the holy grail of many companies – brand recognition.

Helping to build a recognizable brand

When you have thousands of apps launched in the market every day (3,739 are added daily to the Google Play Store alone!), how do you stand out?

The answer is UX and UI design.

An intuitive UI design and great UX can differentiate you from the crowd.

That helps you attract more users and retain them. It can also give you a unique visual edge that could make you more memorable to users.

One good example is the navigation app Waze.

Its quirky and cute approach to UI design makes it stand out from other similar apps. Instead of using a generic Google map, it created one from scratch.

And its unique driver icons are now instantly recognizable.

Even if there are other navigation apps available that are arguably just as good, the Waze app holds a certain charm that keeps many of its users sticking to it.

the Waze app

Source: Fortune

Another recognizable UI design is Venmo. One of the highlights that make it great is its simplicity.

Unlike most payment or banking apps, you can easily send money in just a few steps. It’s so iconic that it’s now the standard UI template for other payment apps.

features of venmo like app

Source: Apptentiv

And, of course, let’s not forget about Amazon.

It pioneered many UI and UX features now widely used in e-commerce, such as product recommendations and the “customers also bought” section.

amazon prime screenshot

Source: Tech Crunch

UI and UX design are especially useful if your app has a couple of competitors doing the same thing. In this case, UX might be the only thing that will get you ahead.

For example, consider ride-hailing apps Uber and Lyft. They have the same functionality at their core – they allow users to book a ride.

As this Fast Company article argues, businesses in that situation soon realize that design is the best way to compete. And that leads them to redesign their apps to outdo the other constantly.

App User

Source: Mobile App Daily

The thing is, an app’s UI design is a powerful tool to help make your mark in the app market.

But it’s more than just aesthetics. It also has positive benefits to your development – specifically, costs.

Minimizing the development costs

With great UX and UI design, you can expect that your overall app costs will tend to be lower. You’ll end up spending fewer resources on revisions and redesigns later on.

The main reason is usability testing. Consider that it’s impossible to achieve excellent UX and UI design without it.

And, as it turns out, usability testing is also a great cost saver, especially if you do it early.

Just look at the typical cost of developing and designing an app:

app design costs

Source: Aglowid

Imagine if your app has poor UX and you need to redesign it. For a simple app, that will cost you an additional $2,000 – $4,000. Mindsea even estimates it could reach as high as $7,500.

Focusing on UI and UX design from the beginning can help you avoid these unnecessary expenses.

The 1-10-100 rule also agrees with this assessment. It states that it’s much more expensive to fix bugs and UI issues later in development.

Not only will you need to pay for the actual rehaul, but you’ll also lose money and users every day your app is down.

how early prototyping prevents costly errors

Source: Interaction Design Foundation

Jakob Nielsen, considered the guru of Web page usability by the New York Times, also said it’s 100 times cheaper to do it before writing a single line of code.

But cost savings are just one part of it. UI and UX design can also help expose profit opportunities in your app.

An often quoted statistic is that for every $1 invested in UX, you can get $100 back. And when UX design is executed properly, this is possible.

return of investment UX

Source: Adam Fard

One great UX case study that shows this in action is retail giant Macy’s.

A few years ago, shoppers on Macy’s website had to sign in with their account before buying anything.

But testing showed this was a big hurdle, as many customers forget their password and, thus, we’re unable to checkout. That translated to lost revenue.

The solution is the now-common Guest Checkout feature that allows users to purchase without logging in. That simple UX move ended up netting Macy an extra $300 million per year.

Overall, sound UX and UI design also lead to sound financials for your app. It can lower your cost and increase your revenue, widening your profit gap.

Reducing the need for instructions

An app with great UI and UX design is naturally more intuitive.

Not only will it be easy to use, but users don’t need to spend as much time reading a manual or Help articles to get up to speed.

Consider how you immediately know how to use an iPhone the moment you pick it up, even if it’s your first time interacting with a touch screen device.

That should be your goal in UI app design.

The main benefit of doing this is that it will reduce friction.

friction vs frictionless 1

Source: Shopify

Friction is anything that hinders the user from using your app. Too many unnecessary steps from one point in your app to the other is an example.

Excessive friction can overwhelm and confuse your users, eventually causing them to drop out.

Intuitive UX design also reduces the need for UX copy on the screen. This can help you save space in your UI and make it more visually pleasing.

Here’s a fascinating case study about a calculator app by Raunaq Shah that shows this in action.

first iteration

Source: Raunaq Shah

Shah came up with the challenge of designing a minimalistic calculator app.

He started by exploring some of the established rules that, on deeper inspection, actually didn’t make sense UX-wise.

He then decided to change a few of them, such as having a number keypad that starts with lower numbers on top and operators (like + and -) that only appear when needed.

The problem was that changing the design risked alienating many users. But through sound UX and UI design, he was able to pull it off:

Raunaq Shah screenshot

Source: Raunaq Shah

The first comment pretty much sums up what a well-executed UX design looks like to your users – “I know where to click the moment I see it.”

That should be your goal.

Securing better rankings in app stores

Great UX design goes beyond the confines of your app. It can even lead to a higher app store ranking, leading to more conversions and downloads.

To figure out why it pays to learn how the app stores rank apps in the first place.

While Apple and Google don’t disclose the algorithm’s inner workings, studies have determined (through experiments and educated guesses) several ranking factors.

Some examples include the app icon, name, description, and backlinks.

ranking factors

Source: DECODE

Now, several key ranking factors can be influenced by UX design.

First is the UI design. A poorly designed interface that’s difficult for users to navigate will be ranked lower in the app store. It can even be rejected outright if it’s bad enough.

The second is your app’s total number of downloads and uninstalls.

You can influence your download rate through app store optimization (ASO) and marketing efforts.

On the other hand, the uninstall rate is purely a UX issue. If your app has a fantastic user experience, then there’s a higher chance that users will stick more with it.

And this is how your app’s UI design can indirectly affect its ranking.

how your apps UI design can indirectly affect its ranking

Source: DECODE

Lastly, you have app reviews and ratings.

Again, this is a direct consequence of great UX. If users love using your app, they will leave you positive reviews.

This leads to better rankings and higher conversions as people are easily influenced by positive feedback and high ratings.

In fact, even a one-star increase can dramatically bump up your conversion, especially in the lower tiers. Take a look:

Opportunity Cost of a Star

Source: Business 2 Community

You can see that optimizing all the above three UI metrics can boost your rankings dramatically. Great reviews lead to more conversions, which can further improve download rates.

And don’t forget that a higher rank means better visibility, leading to more installs.

Amazing that all of these can be achieved with good UI and UX alone.

How to achieve great UI/UX design

We hope you’ve been enlightened on how great UI and UX design can boost your app’s success and why it’s a worthwhile pursuit for your development team.

It’s crucial to remember this because UX and UI design can be challenging. It takes lots of planning, testing, effort, and resources. Plus, mistakes are easy to make.

But we find that partnering with an experienced mobile app agency like DECODE is your best chance of pulling this off.

So if you have an app project you need help with, give us a call!

We’re always available.

Written by

Petar Simic

Co-founder and Shake CEO

Petar leads Shake (DECODE’s sister company) as CEO, delivering the product to a growing number of happy, innovative clients. Day-to-day, he ensures the engineering, design, product, marketing and sales teams all work in harmony. Before moving to Shake, Petar led DECODE. Although an engineer by schooling, his natural talent soon saw him making an impact on the marketing, sales and branding side of things. Petar’s passions include architecture, skiing, sailing, and a good glass of red wine.

Related articles