Mobile App UI: The Most Common Mistakes

A mobile app is not only your primary source of entertainment but is also a powerful converting tool. M-commerce is on the rise, taking more than half of all e-commerce sales globally, and almost every business today owns a mobile app.

With such an overwhelming number of mobile apps available, it’s hard to keep up with the competition and to grab and retain the users’ attention. Luckily, your UX/UI can help a lot – but only if you do it right. Below we list the most common mobile app design mistakes that can ruin the whole experience and discourage users from installing and exploring your app.

Mobile App UI: The Most Common Mistakes

The importance of good UX/UI

While app performance and functionality play a huge role in the future success of an app, it’s actually the first impression that counts most. App’s appearance and design are the factors responsible for forming the first impression but in addition to that, there are several other reasons why the UX/UI aspect is so important.


The goal behind any mobile app is to encourage a user to take a certain action and complete a conversion. Be it clicking on an ad in a game or buying a product online, all applications guide users towards a certain action. And this would be impossible without thought-out navigation and design.

The convenience of navigation and the app’s design dictate how freely users navigate the app and how easy it will be for them to complete their goal. If an app has confusing navigation or poor CTAs, users will miss most of its features and will hardly get a chance to complete a conversion. On the other hand, a user-friendly design naturally guides users through the user flow and encourages them to take the needed action. Hence, UX/UI is responsible for your ROI.

User experience and satisfaction

Another crucial reason why you should pay attention to UX/UI is user experience and satisfaction. Considering how many options there are available, an app should provide an excellent experience to retain its users. But if your design is sloppy, the navigation is poor, and the app overall looks outdated, it will have a negative impact on user experience and will most probably lead to them uninstalling the app.

Great user experience, in turn, leads to higher loyalty towards your brand, increased number of conversions, and better user retention. Needless to say, all of these factors have a significant impact on your revenue.

Now that it’s 100% clear why UX/UI is so important, we can look at the biggest mobile app design mistakes. Note that the reason for most of these mistakes is a lack of planning at the early stages of the app development. Hence, you can avoid these mistakes by investing enough time and resources into research and preliminary work.

Lack of research on user needs

This one relates to the point above. Say, you have a brilliant idea and it does seem valuable and innovative. The next question: do users really need your product or is it you thinking they might want it?

Because the design solely depends on the app’s users, it’s crucial to first define their buying personas and interests and then base your further work upon these findings. Here are some of the questions to answer:

  • What value is your app supposed to bring?
  • What problem will the app solve for the users?
  • What do users expect in your app?
  • How will users reach their goals with your app?

By answering these questions, you will be able to create a logical and natural user flow and to build the design around users’ needs – not the other way around.

It’s not the best idea to offer too many options to users in an attempt to please them. This is usually the case when a product owner did not do any research and tries to guess what users might like. Another scenario is when a product owner has a very broad target audience that has too many needs. As a result, they make one of the biggest mobile app design mistakes aka irrelevant or excessive number of options offered.

Remember that the best number of options to provide is between 2 – 4. A bigger number will simply confuse the users and discourage them from making a choice. 

Poor user flow and sloppy architecture

A user flow is a path that users will take while on your app and it defines the main points of interaction between users and an app. The app’s architecture, in turn, defines its structure and organization of sections and elements. Needless to say, if you have a poorly defined user flow and a sloppy architecture, users will never get the intended value from the app simply because they won’t be able to reach it.

As mentioned above, a well-designed application naturally guides users towards their main goal, whether it’s conversion completion or something else (i.e. snapping a great photo, completing a game level, etc.). If a user cannot understand how to use an app and how to get the desired value, they will simply uninstall it and forget about the app.

There should be no obstacles blocking the user’s way towards their end goal. If a user has to go a few steps back after going “the wrong direction”, this is not something we can call user-friendly navigation.

Confusing navigation

We’ve already said it but let’s repeat one more time: a good mobile application should have intuitive and easy-to-follow navigation. 

One of the most painful mistakes that app designers can make is creating a great design only to pack it with confusing and complex navigation. This implies poorly organized sections of an app, poor or lacking CTAs, and misleading copy. As a result, users have no idea what they are supposed to do so they take the most logical action – they quit and never come back.

A user should not do guesswork in terms of figuring out whether a certain action would lead to certain results. Instead, a user should be presented with several options to choose from in terms of navigation and each option should clearly indicate the outcome a user will receive. 

Poor or no onboarding experience

Onboarding helps to introduce users to an app and forms a first impression, which is really important. Research by Localytics states that 21% of users leave the app after the first use – hence, you’d want to do your best to retain the users.

You can think of onboarding as a tutorial on how to use an app but the trick is to do so in an unobtrusive manner. Do not present all information and all tips at once. Instead, offer instructions “on the go”, when a user really needs them. For example, you can start by asking if a user is new to an app or has used it before, what value they’d like to receive from an app, etc. In many apps, onboarding is combined with setting up personal preferences and app creators use UX/UI copywriting to create an engaging and user-friendly copy that plays a big role in the onboarding process.

Feature overload

In an attempt to provide an excellent user experience and present all information at once, some designers overload the app with features and visual elements. As a result, they get a cluttered app that not only looks clumsy and unappealing but is also incredibly slow simply because it can’t efficiently process all available content. And this is one of the biggest mobile app design mistakes on the list.

For a long time, simplicity and clarity have been the staple marks of good UX/UI. Of course, you can incorporate unique branding or add rich animations if needed – but do not overload the app with excessive features. One of the things to prevent that is writing a list of desired functions and then prioritizing them by high, medium, and low priority. In this way, you will be able to keep your app efficient and valuable yet concise and user-friendly.

When there is too much going on the screen, it overwhelms the user with information and makes it really difficult to decide what to do and where to click. A clean and concise design is not only more visually appealing but is also more user-friendly.

Design inconsistencies

Another huge mistake that designers make is not keeping the app design consistent. By that we mean:

  • Different color schemes;
  • Text formatting out of alignment;
  • Unpredictable behavior of UI elements;
  • Color, lighting, shape inconsistency.

Design consistency is a cornerstone of a wholesome and uniform user experience that is not interrupted by a sudden change in behavior or look of a certain element. This is why it’s so important to keep everything consistent and within certain UI/UX guidelines.

Neglecting simplicity

While this point can be related to feature overload, it’s not exactly what we mean here. By neglecting simplicity we mean too much irrelevant information, visuals, or text that can easily be minimized and replaced.

The most common mobile app design mistakes related to the “heavy weight” of the app are:

  • Too many fields to fill in;
  • Too much text;
  • Too many actions to take;
  • Overloaded design.

Instead of writing “Upload profile picture”, you can simply write “Upload”. While it won’t harm the user experience (since the user perfectly understands what’s going on), it will be easier to comprehend and interact with.

Making a user work too hard to reach a goal

One more critical error that a UI/UX designer can make is forcing the user to work too hard to reach a goal. Examples are:

  • Critical buttons are out of reach: a user cannot reach it with a finger while holding a mobile device;
  • Too many input fields;
  • Too much information to input;
  • Unrecognizable icons that a user has to figure out.

As you can see, in all these cases, the design does not help a user reach a goal but, on the contrary, proposes a user makes a double effort. It’s not hard to guess that such an approach leads to poor user experience and hurts retention a lot.

Expert Opinion

A poor product idea is one of the primary reasons for an app to fail. If a client has a poor product idea, cannot define the value that the product will bring to the users, and wants to create an app only for the sake of having one, the app is doomed.

While there is no 100% guarantee that users will love your product, you can always do extensive research on the market and competition to analyze the current state of the market and possible user needs. As well, you can ask yourself whether you’d use your product on a regular basis. If the answer is “probably”, then it’s better to come up with another idea.

If a client has a vague definition of a product idea, the whole development/design process will take the wrong turn and team members will most likely have misunderstandings about the product. In this way, the design will suffer a lot too because there will be no foundation for it.

Head of UX/UI, SoftTeco

Alex Shatny

Summing up

When creating a mobile application, first you need to come up with the purpose behind it. You can then use design as a primary tool to communicate your message to users but don’t underestimate the importance of good design. When it comes to UX/UI, it’s the first impression that counts the most so make sure your app creates a good one.

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