Designing a mobile app is complex and specialized work, with many potential pitfalls. Inadequate or insufficient knowledge of customer profiles, lack of communication and understanding between the client and the developers’ team can lead to an app which does not meet the best practices in terms of user experience and user interface, does not incorporate the brand image accurately or simply is not visually appealing and intuitive to use.

Design mistakes can ruin a potentially amazing app. The backend may be perfect, bug free, secure and fully compliant with the brief; however the frontend is what the client and its users will see and use in order to judge the value and usability of the app. The main design mistakes in mobile apps appear at the moment of wireframing, or lack thereof.

Lack of planning and foreseeing various usage scenarios will leave many potential bugs unsolved and create extra workload for the developers’ team to correct them and to implement more user-friendly design elements. Or they will lead to the launch of an app which does not meet users’ expectations, is hard to use and unappealing.

There are many design mistakes which could potentially compromise a mobile app. Some of them are so detrimental to the good functionality of an app and to the way users perceive it that they would doom the app to fail should they occur. They must be avoided at all costs. Here they are, the worst offenders in the top of mobile app mistakes:

1. Not Designing Tap Areas Adapted to Human Finger Size

The average index finger is between 0.6 and 0.8 inches wide. You should always keep this metric in mind when designing the tap areas for interacting with the app. In many cases, small and hard-to-hit tap areas are the only serious complaints which make users uninstall an app. Remember that people will not usually stop everything they are doing in order to hit a button or text field on their mobile screen with millimetric accuracy. They are probably walking on the street or sitting at the table with friends and using only one hand to interact with the app.

2. Not Arranging Buttons in an Ergonomic Manner

Together with the design mistake above, this one is another great turn-off for users. There is a simple rule here: place the most critical buttons in the bottom left and central area of the phone screen. This is the easiest way for a person holding a phone in one hand to navigate through the app using their thumb. Ergonomic placement of buttons and textbox areas represent a big part of great user interface.

3. Developing the App for High-End Screen Capacities

Yes, the top-of-the-range smartphones of today have large screens with high definition resolution and the ability to render complex animation schemes without freezing. But not everyone has a high-end smartphone. Many Android phones in use are entry-level ones. They may have large 5.5 inch screens, but they do not have the highest quality of top brand products. A complex app, rich in graphic features and animations, would crash on a lower capacity phone and be practically impossible to use.

4. Designing without Regard for Context

What will the app be used for? What is its core purpose and functionality? Once you have that in mind, design the app accordingly. People who want to check on their account balance on a banking app do not need complex animations or rich design elements. You are not showcasing your design skills and creativity – you are supposed to provide people with a secure and user friendly interface. Designing for the sake of design, and forgetting about the context and scope of an app will achieve the opposite: represent a design failure.

5. Mystery Navigation

Mystery navigation represents graphic icons without the text designating their purpose. Some of these icons are self-explanatory and easy to recognize by users from previous interactions with websites and apps. But you should never assume. The user who is looking puzzled at the phone screen, not sure what button to tap on, is the most likely to uninstall the app soon and look for another one.


These are the most serious design mistakes – but your app may still be liable for others. It is always advisable to work in close collaboration with the development team, test the beta version as thoroughly as possible, and try to replicate the average user’s interactions with it and in various device environments.