How to Redesign a Mobile App: Best Practices


Technologies today are developing very rapidly, so what was relevant only a year ago may currently be considered unfashionable. You don’t still wear a "mullet" haircut or the denim shirt inherited from your dad, right? At least we hope you don’t! The same can be applied to your application, especially if it is older than two years old.

How to Redesign a Mobile App: Best Practices

In this article, we strive to tell you why it is important to redesign an app and provide recommendations for useful optimizations.

Mobile App Redesign: When is it Needed?

Let’s say, several years ago, you created a mobile application which now does not bring the same revenue as it did in the first months after its release. Or, perhaps, you are trying to follow trends all the time and striving to ensure that your mobile software adapts as quickly as possible to at least one modern fad. Is this necessary? Before specifying the main ways to redesign your app, we must first figure out how to distinguish apps that need to be redesigned.

  • You have rebranded. Your company has conducted a rebranding, which will certainly affect your mobile application. In this situation, as a rule, designers retain as much of the former functionality as possible, focusing only on graphic updates. In some cases, however, a much more significant upgrade may be required, which is based on a new vision of the brand.
  • Competing applications are more user-friendly and modern. Competition is probably among the strongest motivators for product improvement, and there is nothing wrong with that. If your competitors adapt their mobile applications to modern requirements, why not do the same? Openness to change and implement new products and services helps to attract success. So, don’t hesitate, and proceed to redesign your app.
  • Your mobile app starts to lose popularity in the App Store or Google Play. This happens quite often. Users may begin finding more and more faults with your mobile application, leaving negative feedback about it and, thus, understating its ratings. Bad luck, huh? You can not disable the comments in such digital software markets, can you? Your best option, in this case, is to begin remodeling and improving what is already available. So, go ahead and commence the app redesign!
  • Your mobile application is bugged. The release of the app was seemingly successful; however, a year or two later, your technical support has collected a lot of bug reports. Do not hide from the problems, but solve them boldly. In this situation, a redesign can also be a great help.
  • You are trying to attract a new target audience. The desire to raise your level of earnings by attracting a new target audience is quite natural. As a rule, in this case, we’d target younger users who, due to their enthusiasm for the latest trends, can simply not appreciate what was created by your designers only a couple of years earlier. Launching an advertising campaign? As the experience of many developers show, such a move, even if very successfully implemented, has a high probability of not justifying itself financially. After all, even if Tim Cook himself says that the typewriter is cool, you are unlikely to be tempted by it and will probably still choose a brand new Macintosh, are you not? We suggest the same with your web application. Do not spend your finances on nonsense, attract new users with quality and through a redesign.

Now that we have given you the five main reasons for a redesign, let’s go further and find out what the app redesign process is, which will help create a new look for your mobile application.

Redesigning the app: 10 useful recommendations

Let’s start by studying the guidelines, which consists of ten useful tips that will help to change the design of your mobile application for the better.

1. Determine the Main Cause for the Redesign

Above, we pointed out the five main reasons for starting a redesign. It is very important to understand which of them apply to your situation, and which are irrelevant. After all, in the case of the obsolete design, the required changes will be much less significant than in a situation where existing functionality is lacking.

2. Collect User Feedback

The second thing you need to do is analyze real user feedback (such as comments on Google Play or the App Store, polls inside the application or received through support email). You will immediately find out how many disadvantages users have found in the design of your mobile application. It does not matter much if you are the owner of a popular app like 6PM; though the design of this mobile application is openly obsolete, shopaholics from around the world will still download and actively use it because it offers the lowest possible prices on a wide variety of products. In any other case, user opinions should definitely be taken into account. Too many dark shades? Okay, fix it. Small fonts, buttons that are mistakenly pressed in place of others, inconveniently positioned input fields, images that are too heavy to load? This is all extremely valuable information and feedback for your business that you can get just by reading all the reviews intently.

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3. Employ Analytical Systems

Embedded analytic systems of digital application markets are a holy grail for mass market mobile software. Of course, it will be very difficult to master all the recommendations of every client, and will be even more difficult to single out the really important and objective ones among them, and not focus on the completely irrational ones. In turn, analytical systems will provide you with enough detailed information about how many times your application was deleted, for what reason, etc.

4. Involve Fashionable Trends

Even if your application is not a catalog of handbags, it should still correspond with the most current trends in IT. If you have a calorie calculator, this does not mean that you will have to "stuff" it with newfangled features, such as augmented or virtual reality, artificial intelligence, Internet of Things, etc. That would be good, but not necessary. Therefore, we are focusing our attention on trends in the sphere of mobile application design - this will not seriously affect your pocket, but will really benefit your software.

5. Compare the Design of your Application with Competing Ones

At the beginning of the article, we talked about the fact that competition is one of the most important reasons for redesign. Okay, you found out that there are competitors who, according to their download rating, literally breathe down your back and have maybe left you far behind. Your goal is to download the applications of these competitors, and actively participate in them to understand what their winning features are. Of course, completely adopting another app's UI is not an option. As a rule, plagiarism is very quickly incriminated, and it certainly will not play into a strong reputation for your application. If you want to copy, do so, but be trendy about it. Individual features leave their "homeland," after all, and truly creative designers will certainly have the imagination and ideas to create something new and unique for you.

6. Select the Priority Functions of the Application

Sometimes, mobile applications with quite extensive functionality fail by simply having a poorly organized interface. In fact, the problems that your users may encounter, in practice, due to this reason can only be two. The first one is the rather limited size of the user’s device screen. The second is the ability(or lack thereof) to easily access the main functions of such software. If it happens that developers have assembled the current version of an app from scraps, it can be very difficult to single out its major functions. Therefore, you should carefully analyze user surveys. For example, you can connect the option of sending push notifications with a certain number of questions (no more than 5-7), which could provide you with feedback about what is most important for users in the application.

7. Adapt the Logos and Colors of the Brand

In some cases, rebranding is the main reason for a redesign, and that is great, as the world does not stand still. The world-famous Coca-Cola brand, which needs no additional advertising, has changed its logo 12 times over their history. Do you consider your brand any different? You should definitely not wait a decade to change something in the current presentation of your brand. The first thing you need to do is to choose the optimal color scheme for the current vision of your brand (unless your product has already become a household name). The Pantone palette, updated every six months, can become a great help here. These selections are not just colors - each of the added shades symbolizes a new feeling or emotion in the modern person; therefore, at least some of them should appear in the updated design of your mobile application. The form of the logo, as a rule, remains the same, with only minor details corrected. The charters created for Material Design and/or Flat Design will help your inspiration, depending on which of the two mobile platforms you build your software product for (Android or iOS respectively).

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8. Strengthen the Conceptuality

Try to evaluate how evenly the design of your mobile application emphasizes the concept of your brand. In some cases, this is very important (in particular, when the application is a "continuation" of your core business). As it happens, the design is extremely neutral, and it is great if, at the same time, this software’s winning feature is its advanced or extremely topical functionality. Now, let’s be realistic: today "re-inventing the wheel" is quite a difficult task and, with high probability, there are already several mobile applications in the world that offer something similar. Which will receive the highest ratings, in your opinion? Provided that they all work correctly, the answer is obvious - those that have the most modern and eye-catching designs, in which the unique style of your company will be followed down to the smallest detail.

9. Simplify the Interface Maximally

Do you know what software development is aimed at? To make life easier for users, for sure! Help your users and simplify the navigation of the application as best as possible. Do not make a menu with a lot of branches and sub-options - les is better, in this case. Also, bulky button panels do not suit usable apps. Try to reduce the amount of text, replacing it with informative icons as much as possible. Users should be able to utilize the main functions of the application in no more than three clicks – this is the main principle of modern design. Side panels should also be minimized; it is better to place them vertically, if needed at all (your users probably know what "scrolling" is). Of course, pay attention to the size of the fonts and buttons. After all, this is a main headache for the vast majority of mobile users. It is likely that, day after day, they are forced to zoom on the screen to see what is written and update the page only because they accidentally clicked the wrong button (thanks to its miniature size and the abundance of other clickable elements located in close proximity).

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10. Adapt to Changes in the Platform Design Guidelines

Perhaps your application was released when iOS 7 was the latest software, and skeuomorphism was predominant in mobile app design. Android did not have a well-coordinated concept for application design before the Lollipop version, either. If your mobile software was created before 2013 and has never undergone changes in the design since, now is the time to catch up. Carefully study the current platform design policies and adapt your UI to them.

Examples of Successful Mobile Application Redesign Projects

Now let us look at examples of mobile applications that were redesigned which benefited significantly from this process.

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  • Uber. Uber is a very useful application that allows users to call a taxi through their smartphone. The old version of the design did not include the display of cars available in the immediate area; the current version is much more informative, in this respect. Compared to earlier versions, a rebranding was also conducted.

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  • Instagram. Probably every smartphone user has tried Instagram, at least once. That is why it was extremely important for its creators to strongly support this frenzied popularity in every possible way. As such, the design of the Instagram application has undergone numerous modifications among the course of its existence.

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  • Facebook. Being one of the most viral social networks in the world, Facebook constantly tries to optimize the user experience. While its original design looked extremely conservative, its updated version shows elements of flat design, characteristic to the iOS platform.

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  • Yelp. Yelp is a mobile application that helps users search for services in a given location, with the ability to view user feedback and reviews. The main goal of its redesign was not to create something new and extremely creative; the emphasis was made on improving the comfortability of the UX. What was the result of the designer activities? In addition to navigation elements, the color scheme and appearance of the app logo changed slightly.
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Our team of Applikey Solutions designers has already helped many companies adapt the designs of their mobile applications to the requirements of users and modern trends. Not only do we have our own vision for each contracted project, but we also listen attentively to the wishes of our customers, resulting in a fully customized solution. If you need the help of professional designers, please contact us! Just fill in this form, and we would be happy to rebuild your mobile application.

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