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Why less is more in mobile app development

As my colleague Arjan van IJzendoorn previously mentioned in his blog post, with Mendix you can develop intuitive Multi-Device user interfaces. While he focused on the navigation, this post outlines some quick tips for developing the mobile interface. The focus will be on how to make the user interface and experience as user friendly and professional as possible. While a lot of great rapid app developers know how to display data and create complex and important logic, displaying data in a mobile app is a whole other ball game. The goal for the mobile UI is to make the users think as little as possible and provide a smooth transition and user experience. Sounds easy enough, but in practice it can be a bit of a challenge.

Make Space Count

While the term ‘phablet’ is becoming somewhat mainstream, the biggest screen sizes are still maxing out at 7in diagonal. It might seem like that is a lot of space, but it’s actually not. Therefore, in mobile UI development, every inch of the screen counts and must be used optimally. Keeping that in mind, it’s easy to see why the following tips on space use are important:

  • Don’t overcrowd the screen with buttons

  • Don’t make the font too small or too big - test it out and see what looks and feels best

  • Space out rows and columns

  • Always ask yourself: is this button/text necessary?

Below is a good and bad example of “using space optimally in mobile UI development. The following app is a sample app designed to create an intuitive way for students to login and see the classes offered by their university. Both views are trying to convey the same information – scheduled classes a student can take – but one of them is bad UI design. Can you guess which one?

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