App Design for the Ages

app design for the ages

What is an App?

Everyone has an app these days. TV shows, web sites, major multinational corporations, even your brother-in-law's taxi firm conducts its business through an iPhone app -- but what are they?

Well, apps are basically little, self-contained programs, used to enhance existing functionality, hopefully in a simple, more user-friendly way.

Take one of today's modern smartphones. They all come with powerful web browsers, meaning you can do pretty much anything you can do on a desktop computer in a phone's browser.

But fiddling about with a URL bar and managing bookmarks on a mobile phone it still a pretty awkward, cumbersome experience. Which is why many online sites and services now go down the standalone app route, giving them better control of the user experience and, hopefully, making everything simpler and quicker to open and use.

With all of the information, entertainment, and functionality mobile apps bring us, it’s no surprise that 52% of mobile device usage is spent on apps. Some companies develop into billion-dollar entities from developing just one mobile apps that takes off and is downloaded by the millions. With all this time spent with our faces buried in the blue screen glow, what mobile apps are we spending most of our time on?

Mobile Apps Popular with the Littlest Users  

Children who can’t even form full sentences yet are using mobile apps! Half of children in America ages zero to 8 have used a mobile app, with usage having increased 212% from four years ago in 2011. What once was a paper placemat and crayons to keep children busy at restaurants has transformed into creative mobile apps that allow drawing and making music or videos—creative apps being utilized by 38% of children this age. Don’t worry, there are plenty of games designed to educate techy toddlers and children, with 43% this group spending time on educational games. And 42% of these users spend time on ‘just for fun’ games—even though the fun they’re having is on a screen instead of in the backyard.

This group of teens aged 14 to 17 is mainly concerned with video and visually focused apps, with the highest percentage of usage on apps that either feature strictly video content (YouTube and Vine), or apps that feature video along with other media (Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat). Although some high schools and junior high schools issue school-owned tablets to students for schoolwork purposes, the rest of the apps where this age group spends the majority of their time are entertainment and social apps like Twitter, Tumblr, WhatsApp, Reddit, and Pinterest.


Colin Kroll, creator of the popular app Vine, graduated with a degree in Computer Science.  

As We Get Older - Our # of Devices Increases!

It seems overwhelming to imagine, but college-aged students own an average of 7 tech devices! If your phone goes dead, you can watch that video or read that article on your laptop, tablet, smart TV, or mp3 player. Other commonly owned tech devices among college students are video game consoles, handheld gaming systems, printers, and e-readers. Older millennials, aged 25 to 34, represent the highest mobile app usage users in the country and are more likely to download paid apps than any other age group—perhaps because they have expendable income but aren’t spending it on children just yet. This age group also spends the most time on health and fitness apps—they must be starting to feel their age and trying to cut their healthcare costs!

As mobile app users climb in age, they’re downloading less purely social apps and are spending more time on business-related apps than younger age groups. According to LinkedIn, the largest group of their total users (both mobile and desktop) fall within the 30-49 years old range. Facebook still tops the usage charts for the 33-54 and 55+ age groups, but Pandora Radio is also popular. The Baby Boomer generation—who grew up, began their families, and started their first jobs before the Internet was even invented—utilize plenty of recreational game apps, like the free version of Words With Friends and solitaire.

Breaking into App Design - Don't Be Left in the Cold

Keep in mind that mobile apps, smartphones, and even the Internet were all born in just the last 30 years. Since the technology is still young and growing, the possibilities for creating the next must-download mobile app are virtually infinite. For those looking to be a part of the app generation, there are multiple choices for earning your degree in Information Technology. 

If you want to get into app design you might want to earn an online degree in software and application development and rocket to the top as the hottest download on the App Store or Google Play. The 1.1 million software developers[i] in the U.S. earned an average salary of $100,690 in 2015.[ii] 

Are you more of an Angry Birds, Candy Crush, Super Mario Run kind of person? Well, hit pause because we’ve got online video game design degrees that may also be relavant to getting into app design. Multimedia artists and animators earned a median salary of $63,970 in 2015[iii], and projected job growth will increase due to higher demand for animation and visual effects in movies, TV, and, you guessed it, video game design.[iv] In 2014 alone, 1,319 degrees in web multimedia management and webmaster were earned.[v]   

No one knows what the future app design trends will be. . . . Look at all the changes in just the past few years—like the rollout of voice-controlled home assistants like Alexa. But we can tell you one thing for sure: digital life won’t be going out of style anytime soon.

5 App Stats You Definitely Did Not Know About

App design stats infographic | | | | |  |  |