Education App Design: 7 Best Practices to Design a Competitive Application

“You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” The same goes for your learning app. When a user opens it, the design is the first thing they notice. And let’s be honest—if it’s terrible, the odds are they will close your application and never come back.  Spoiled by the abundance of educational apps available on the market, users won’t tolerate a bad user experience. If your software looks outdated, has a messy UI, or is simply inconvenient to use, they will go to a competitor without giving it a second thought.  In our article on education platform development, we mentioned that the e-Learning industry is expected to hit the $325 billion mark by 2025. That means the competition will only get fiercer. In order to prosper in such a competitive market, you should make a quality education app design your top priority. As an educational software development company that cares about our customers’ success, we want to take a closer look at this topic and suggest industry best practices to follow when designing educational apps. In the following paragraphs, we mention the crucial factors you should consider to create a quality design that addresses the needs of your target audience and delivers the best user experience. What is good design? Before we start, let’s make sure we’re on the same page.  Design is not only about visuals—there is much more to it. When we talk about educational app design, we imply not only the app’s appearance but also its performance, the user experience it provides, the features it supports, its optimization, and more. Thus, to make your learning app competitive, it is not enough to create appealing visuals; you need to take care of other aspects as well. So what is good design? We believe good e-Learning app design: Adapts to various screen resolutions and operating systems. Is aesthetically appealing. Considers the age and abilities of the app’s target users. Has straightforward navigation without superfluous elements. Loads fast on any device and doesn’t require too many resources. Is unobtrusive (without ads or pop-ups that cover a big portion of the screen, distracting users from the learning process).  Is innovative. Has gamification elements. Is easy to use for both teachers and students. Resonates with your target audience. Addresses the needs and pain points of the app’s users. No matter whether you want to build a web app or a mobile application, keep this in mind when creating its design. Education app design best practices: 7 things to consider Now that we’ve made sure we’re on the same page, let’s talk about best design practices for e-Learning app development. #1 Consider the age and abilities of your target audience You can’t design a quality learning app without knowing your audience. That’s why we always recommend starting educational app development with the project discovery phase. At this stage, you analyze the market and define your audience persona to fine-tune your application and address the needs of your target users.  Once the necessary data is collected, the first step you should take is to consider the age and abilities of your future audience. Depending on the age group you target, the design approach will differ. Designing for kids Modern kids are glued to their smartphones and tablets. To make their children’s screen time worthwhile, parents often install educational apps. What makes e-learning apps for kids different from those for adults? The most prominent distinctive feature of such solutions is obviously appearance. Apps for kids use bright colors, lots of cartoon characters, and plenty of animations to keep little users engaged. Using them feels like watching a cartoon, which facilitates the learning process and motivates children to learn. Another difference is navigation. Online learning apps for children rely on simple navigation with clear icons and avoid text-only buttons since kids under the age of 6 typically can’t read. The gestures in such applications are simple (draw, swipe, and drag). Given that kids have limited motor skills, it’s good practice to avoid complex gestures such as multi-finger, double-tap, pinch gestures, and multi-gestures.  Unlike adults, kids expect feedback after every action. Thus, a learning app for kids should utilize sounds, visuals, and text to respond whenever the child takes a certain action. More importantly, it should offer visual hints to guide the little user and help them find the right answer. For more actionable tips on how to design educational mobile apps for kids, please refer to this Google Developers article. Designing for adults Obviously, the adult audience doesn’t need colorful cartoon characters or lots of animations to enjoy learning materials and online courses. What they need is a simple and minimalistic design without too many elements. The color palette, for example, should be restrained. Keep your color combination simple so that it isn’t overwhelming to the eye and doesn’t distract from learning. Most adults are familiar with navigation buttons so there is no need to label those with text—use the screen space for something else. As for the navigation, this audience knows complex gestures well, so feel free to utilize them. The crucial part is to make your UI/UX design as intuitive as possible: the user should be able to use your app right after they open it, preferably without watching tutorial videos.  Also, adults love progress charts and achievement badges, so make sure to design those. Consider making share buttons for them so that the users can show off their achievements on social media and thereby help you promote your application. Note that many adults have children and busy lives, so they often don’t have too much time to learn. To address this, we suggest implementing microlearning. Microlearning is when you break a complex topic into small chunks of information that can be digested quickly and easily. That will make the learning process much simpler and help you retain even the busiest users. We’ll come back to this topic later in the article.
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