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Build a Better App With These 4 Design Essentials

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A key factor in the success of any app is that it is designed for a specific audience. The product design, look and feel and usability of the app resonate with the particular customer segment it has been created for.

So how do you design for success? Steve Jobs once said, "Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works."

Get started with designing your app keeping these things in mind.

1. Who is your customer? Potentially, the most important answer in product design is to know who your customer is. You cannot create a product or an app to solve a problem without knowing who you're making it for. The broader the customer base, the more you restrict your app from becoming a success.

Related: Google Hangout: The Best Apps and Tech Tools to Supercharge Your Small Business

For example, everyone needs or wants a camera app to take great pictures. Thus, Instagram was born. If you look at the different customer segments of the app, there is an enterprise user, who is typically a company trying to promote their service or product. Then there are individuals who want to take great pictures and share them with their networks.

Was Instagram designed for both of these audiences? No.

The app was created for individuals to share their life with friends and family. Companies using the app was and is incidental. Even today, the app is aimed at individuals.

2. Spend time to understand your customer. Once you know who your customer segment is, you need to spend time to understand them better. You need to be aware of their habits, when they are faced with the problem you're trying to solve, when are they most likely to use your app, etc.

The more insight you have into their behavior, the better you can create a product that fits into their lives seamlessly, thereby creating a habit-forming app.

For example, if your customer is an enterprise, with the product being used mostly during the day at work, your customer will be on their desktop/laptop more often than their mobile phone. In this case, you may want to build your product as a web-first and offer the mobile app as a value add. Think Basecamp.

However, if your customer is someone who will be using your product on the go, you've got to create a mobile-first experience and extend it to the web as a value add. Think Instagram.

3. Drive emotions. How do you feel when you look at certain products? Does it make you feel anything? Colors are scientifically proven to drive certain emotions in people and that is one of the reasons why you see specific colors in certain logos and product design.

When you understand your customer and when the app will be used, design with a look and feel that stimulates an emotion that you would like your customer to experience.

Related: The Psychology of Color in Marketing and Branding

For example, if you look at Canvsly, the design is playful and bright and goes well with the theme of the app. The look and feel of this app instantly connects with parents, invoking emotions connected to their child.

4. Drive ease of use. In the biography of Steve Jobs, he tells the author, "Most people make the mistake of thinking design is what it looks like. People think it's this veneer -- that the designers are handed this box and told, "Make it look good!' That's not what we think design is."

iPhone is a case in point. A phone with just one button was quite revolutionary and changed the way people used their phones. No one could have thought the phone could be made even easier to use. That's design.

On the app side of things, look at the Clear app. The app simplified and beautified the process of to-do lists.

Your product has to be efficient, effective, engaging, error tolerant and easy to learn.

The dynamics of creating software have changed over the years, when earlier design was only a layer on top of the software that was already created. If you were to do that today, rest assured, users are not going to come back!

Related: The 6 Vital Ways to Engage Users of Your App

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