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The Art of Web App Design: Tips and Best Practices

Updated: Dec 18, 2023

web app design

Which method of web app design works best? Which should come first: a user experience (UX) that is simplified or multiple features? Should you give your users something new, or concentrate on intuitive design patterns that they are already familiar with? Should your target audience be primarily online or mobile?

When designing your web application, it can be difficult to know where to begin with so many choices to make. Using tried-and-true best practices will assist you in organizing the procedure and focusing on the most crucial aspects.

To provide users with the greatest experience possible when designing or optimizing your web application, put these eight best practices into practice.

Web applications, such as Canva, LinkedIn, or Google Docs, are comprehensive, dynamic answers to user requirements that provide users with interactive means of modifying data and elements to carry out tasks.

For outstanding web app design, there are no one-size-fits-all best practices; instead, each technique should be customized to your user base and business objectives. These eight best practices, however, can direct your workflow and guarantee that every design choice you make will satisfy your users once your priorities are established.

Focus on resolving user issues

Web app design

Web applications enable users to do tasks in addition to giving them information. This implies that knowing the tasks that your users need to complete is particularly crucial for web app design. Your entire web app design process, from brainstorming essential features to validating design concepts to creating a compelling user interface (UI) and user experience (UX), should be guided by user needs.

How can you implement this best practice? 

Communicate with your users—and do so often. Do in-depth research into the issues users want your web app to address by conducting user interviews and sending out surveys. Make sure to regularly update your user personas and customer journey maps after you've created them because as users interact with your web application, their needs will evolve.

One excellent example of a web app with a solution-focused design is Google Docs. One of the main user problems that the design idea addresses is enabling multiple people to work together asynchronously or simultaneously on the same document. Enabling users to navigate features that address their problems is the foundation of both the UX and UI.

Additionally, Google Docs performs a fantastic job of adapting to new user needs as they emerge. For example, their team found that many users want to be able to use web app features even in situations where they have poor or no internet connectivity. To address this need, they developed strong edit-offline capabilities that allow users to continue working on tasks even when they aren't online.

Utilize well-proven design patterns.

web app design pattern

The delicate balance between tradition and innovation is achieved by excellent web app design. Users may become confused by an overly innovative design if you don't include elements they are accustomed to.

For this reason, using well-established web app design patterns is a smart best practice to help users figure out what to do on their own.

For example, you should:

  • Standardize the look of your checkout or sign-up forms by using autofill patterns and basic, clearly labeled fields.

  • Make use of a traffic light color scheme for your alert icons: use red for warnings or error statuses, yellow or orange for less urgent advisory alerts, and green for success notifications.

  • Implement recognizable navigation patterns, such as a "back" button that allows users to go back to the previous screen in the upper left corner.

  • Utilize split-screen layout to present users with two distinct user journeys.

Add unique elements

web application

Although well-known design solutions are a terrific place to start, you shouldn't just copy a web app design template without adding your own touch. Your web app's design should be user-focused and captivating enough to give users a novel experience that meets their needs.

For an original design, you ought to:

  • Use tools such as surveys to find out what more your users would like to achieve.

  • Examine the online apps of your rivals to determine what would make yours stand out.

  • Make experimentation and creativity a priority in your design culture. Foster a culture of learning where team members are encouraged to take risks and fail.

Users can experiment dynamically with various colors and levels of light intensity to see how each option appears in actual spaces. Philips gave their customers the ability to see and feel smart lights before they buy them, which allowed them to add unique and useful design elements to the customer journey.

Build in responsive feedback cues

web design feedback cues

Users must always receive a clear response from your web app when they take an action in order for them to interact with its features effectively.

Ensure that your design adapts to user behavior and include feedback cues that let users know what happens when they take certain actions.

For instance, when they click a button, they ought to experience a haptic click or see an icon to let them know their click was recorded. When a user hovers over buttons and call-to-actions, these elements should change in size or color. Use a traditional loading wheel or transition pop-up when a state is loading. Extra assurance is given to users when significant actions, like adding a product to their cart, are indicated by a pop-up that displays the item and its quantity.

All of this enables users to navigate clearly by giving them the assurance that their actions have been understood. In the absence of cues providing feedback, users frequently become frustrated and angry, leading them to click furiously.

Simplify buttons and features

Task Tiger Design Web App

A feature-rich design and a clear, straightforward user experience are balanced in the best web app designs. Because web apps frequently have smaller screen sizes than standard websites (especially when viewed on mobile devices or tablets), you need to take extra care to avoid overwhelming users with menus and options.

Give priority to the most useful features for your web application's homepage, dashboard menus, and basic navigation. You can provide additional options in a section dedicated to advanced features or point users in the direction of integrations.

Establish a distinct menu hierarchy with just the most important buttons after you've determined which important components to emphasize first. Use lots of white space on your pages and limit the number of distracting images, such as popups or videos, for a more simplified user experience.

Make sure your web app has a consistent appearance and feel

Web Application

Ensure that your web application has a consistent look and feel on various devices.

To make your brand identity credible and easily recognizable, make sure the images on your website and native apps are similar. To optimize usability, it's crucial to ensure that the navigation logic functions consistently throughout your websites and applications.

Make sure your UI design is consistent throughout the entire web application to prioritize internal consistency. For instance, users shouldn't be directed to a completely different screen with a different design when they click an option. On every page or screen, the main menu options and buttons should remain in the same location.

Boost findability and navigation

User Experience

A complicated or confusing web app hierarchy can quickly cost you users. Make sure users can quickly access the homepage or user dashboard, see exactly where they are on your web application, and return to the screen they were just on.

Use "breadcrumb trails," or secondary navigation menus that indicate the user's current location in the journey, to help users navigate your app.

UX will be greatly impacted by making it simple for users to locate anything on your web application.

To make navigation easy for users, group together elements that are similar to one another, such as different kinds of tools or products. Provide straightforward yet incredibly useful search filters to ensure users can quickly and easily find what they need.

Empty spaces and transitional states should also be closely monitored for a clear user journey, as these are potential places for customers to get lost or confused.

Users will become frustrated if you show them blank space while they wait for something to load, let them view fields they haven't filled out yet, or send them to an error page. You'll also have lost the chance to instruct them on what to do next.

Design for empty states: Provide users with unambiguous labels and messages that explain what's happening or provide examples of what they could enter in form fields or user profile blanks.

Test user experience and performance on a regular basis.

Test user experience

Testing, testing, and testing again is perhaps the most crucial best practice for web app design. Make sure your design is satisfying user needs, and if not, make necessary improvements.

Run web monitoring tests on a regular basis to ensure that your web application is safe, operative, and operating quickly. Create alerts so that you are the first to know when a feature breaks, a security certificate expires, or there is an outage in your web application.

It is advisable to conduct user testing of new ideas, updates, and aesthetic selections to make sure your choices have a beneficial effect.

Testing is essential for validating concepts early on, during prototyping, and for determining the minimum viable product (MVP). However, you should continue conducting feedback tests after your web app goes live.

To choose between various design options, implement tools for product experience insights, and conduct usability tests to identify adjustments that will enhance the user experience overall, you can use A/B or multivariate product testing.

In order to gain a more profound understanding of user needs, it is crucial to integrate quantitative analytics with qualitative product experience insights derived from user opinions. You can perform both qualitative and quantitative user research with Hotjar, then combine the findings to determine precisely what steps you should take to enhance the design of your web application.

Use these guidelines to create customer-focused designs for web app design

It's simple to follow the latest trends in web app design and squander money on glitzy features and menus that your users might not actually need.

Your users should be the primary factor in all design decisions, not the newest technology. To build a web application that users will love, let their feedback, behavior patterns, and fundamental needs guide your design.

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