Mobile App News Feed Design Guide

  • Apr 6, 2023
  • By: Slick
  • 8 min read

Mobile app news feed design can help make your app simple, elegant, and practical. Here's what you need to know in a handy design guide.


    There is no shame in admitting it: the first thing you do upon waking up is to check your phone for notifications. If that describes you, you are among approximately 71% of people who do the same. Who doesn’t love a quick doom scroll through Insta while you have your coffee?

    Social media feeds have become a mainstay in our modern society. They can provide an endless, rotating ticker tape of news, celebrity posts, and whatever else tickles our fancy. And that means that the mobile app news feed is the place where your users will spend the most time.

    A bad news feed system design is a quick turn-off for users who anticipate a slick experience. So in this guide, join us as we discuss how to make the most of it.

    The Rise of the Mobile App News Feed

    We humans have a thing for novelty. We like shiny, new things that catch our attention among the morass of everyday life. And thanks to modern internet algorithms, we can get that in an uninterrupted stream.

    There’s a reason you see some sort of feed in practically every social media or news app out there. The continual news feed design is not by accident. It’s intentional and takes advantage of our human psychology.

    No one ever plans to scroll for three hours through Twitter. But they do anyway, even if they know there are more important things on the docket.

    Scrolling feeds provide endless titillation, inspiration, and dopamine fulfilment. To be clear, this is not a pessimistic outlook intended to shame those who scroll through social media on a daily basis. Rather, this is the reality of our modern, internet-enabled world.

    Mobile app market growth by Mindinventory



    Why Should You Bother with a News Feed in Your Mobile App Design?

    The answer is one word: engagement. You want users to use your app more, not less. That means more chances for them to see your sponsorships, products, and advertisements for partners.

    A feed is effectively a black hole that sucks your users in and keeps them there longer than they might stay otherwise. But just because you have a feed doesn’t mean that it will create that intended effect. Poorly-implemented feeds will obviously drive customers away.

    Create a successful feed, and you boost app engagement tenfold.

    How to Design a Mobile App Feed

    There’s a lot that goes into this seemingly simple component of your app. Hiring UX design services is the obvious choice, but what things should you include?

    Let’s do a rundown of everything mobile app design services should include in your feed.

    The thumb zone concept by Smashing Magazine

    Create a Consistent User Experience

    Have you ever used an app that you loved, only to hate it after a new update? The app may look similar, but it performs differently. The buttons are in different places, ruining the muscle memory that you developed while using it.

    It takes a couple of months for people to form a habit. When a company throws a redesign at them, it knocks them off balance and forces them to relearn the app. This is a frustrating experience that is likely to kill customer engagement.

    You want your news feed to be as smooth as possible, and relatively unchanged across updates. Customers should be able to jump right in, use it, and jump right out. If they are bored at work and your app is no longer like it use to be, there’s a good chance they might uninstall it.

    It’s common for startups to make the mistake of going for beautiful design over usable design. But they misunderstand that customers use your app more for how well it works than how it looks.

    Integrate New Features in Accordance with the Existing Design Philosophy

    Updates are necessary, and customers these days anticipate regular redesigns. These are great ways to hook them and keep them using the app more often. But make sure that any new additions fit with what you have already been doing.

    As you hire a UX design agency, you want to be sure that they can keep to a consistent, cohesive design schedule. Changes and updates should make the app better, without changing it fundamentally.

    Prioritize Customization

    Algorithms can do a great job on their own recommending content to interested users. However, you should provide simple ways for users to tweak their feed. Options to ignore certain types of content, and ways to teach the algorithm–such as liking or sharing.

    For example, your app may allow users to follow news sources that they particularly like. You may allow them to filter by keywords or by content genre. Customers will thank you if you allow them to hide any political content that tends to clog up one’s feed.

    Integrate Social Sharing Methods

    When people see a good article, they want to share it with their friends. While they could simply copy the link and paste it, you should make it easier for them to distribute the content.

    Create in-app ways for them to share with other users who have the app. If there is no friend or follower functionality in your app, then take full advantage of Apple or Android’s share menu. You may even include in-app options for sharing.

    Time spent using social media apps:

    Provide Occasional Suggestions

    Sometimes, people want something without realizing that they want it. It’s very common for a YouTube user, for example, to fall down a rabbit hole after clicking on a video that wouldn’t normally appear in their feed. Your app should do something similar with a suggestion function.

    This could be a simple, unobtrusive article that appears on their feed. It could include the “suggested for you” tag so they know that this is not part of their typical content. Then they can engage with it or remove it through the customization options we mentioned earlier.

    These can also be suggestions for how to best use their account. For example, signing up for email notifications and daily digests. Anything that allows them to experience the app to its fullest.

    Use Notifications Wisely

    Every app you download these days seems to be intent on bombarding you with notification after notification. Many of these notifications are pure advertising, offering nothing of use. Send too many of them, and people may turn off your notifications altogether.

    Provide granularity on which notifications customers receive. These can be notices about a hashtag or news publisher that they are following. But they shouldn’t be frequent notifications throughout the day that are going to pester them.

    You might go the route of in-app notifications. These allow your customers to see what they’ve been missing only once they open the app again.

    Make It a Snappy, Smooth Experience

    Tell me if you’ve seen this before: you scroll through the feed a bit too fast, and suddenly you get empty loading boxes. This creates the annoyance of having to wait long seconds for new content to appear. Most people would switch to another app if this happened too often.

    Take a page out of Instagram’s book. Assuming you have a good Internet connection, you can scroll endlessly through your Instagram feed without ever running out of content. This is a careful combination of good server architecture and app design.

    Customers will love it if they feel like they can scroll forever. If they see repeat posts or other tricks to give the appearance of neverending content, they may start to lose interest.

    Optimize Your Feed for All Screens

    Some people have a tiny iPhone Mini, while others have gigantic Galaxy S23 Ultras that take two hands to use. In other words, every phone has a different screen resolution and touchscreen behavior. You should optimize your app so works best on almost every screen form factor.

    Some UI design elements will appear very differently on a screen with curved edges compared to one without. If you account for this, you give a consistent experience across all devices.

    If you have an app that runs on tablets, you want the same thing. No one likes to use an app that has a phone aspect ratio on a large tablet screen.

    Build Your Mobile App Feed with Slick

    Your mobile app news feed is often the primary way that people engage while using your app. This can make or break you, so it pays to make this something your customers will spend many hours using. Keep the above tips in mind and you can’t go wrong as you design the feed.

    At Slick, we design websites and apps bespoke for your needs. Visit us here to see how we can make your next app idea a reality.


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