Gone are the days of expensive, cumbersome and outdated paper event guides—or at least they should be! In today’s digital environment, your attendees expect modern communication on the mobile devices they live on. One of the most effective ways to attract attendees and engage them during and after an event is mobile technology.

Mobile app platforms are making it easy for anyone—regardless of technical ability—to create rich content to connect with your audience, but it may feel overwhelming to figure out how much to customize your design. Here are five essential principles of app design to help you create an effective digital event guide.

1. Design for the right audience. Who is your audience? What’s the most important information they need? How will they interact with the app? What is the purpose of the app? Nearly every design decision comes back to these questions, so use that knowledge to prioritize what and how you want to communicate with users to enhance the experience. Find the nucleus of the event—often it’s the schedule—and build outwards from there.

2. Design for mobile-native elements. Take advantage of the native capabilities of the mobile device—e.g. push notifications, GPS and built-in camera—to create a rich experience far beyond what a mobile-optimized web site could offer.

3. Design for ease of use. Never override established navigation concepts, UI elements, etc. of the existing mobile operating system you’re designing for; instead, work within it to deliver an experience that users are already familiar with. Also, design labels, icons and “affordances” (those design elements that give users an indication of what will happen, such as an arrow for a drop-down menu) that are clear and intuitive.

4. Design for engagement. App stickiness can be greatly influenced by design. Look for ways to push new and relevant information to the user—fresh content, push notifications, messages, new connection requests, etc.

5. Design for cohesiveness. Brand consistency is critical for creating a holistic mobile experience. Taking the time to establish elements such as a visual language, style guide and component libraries early on in the process can be the difference between a mediocre app and an excellent app.

Author: Peter Lada, Creative Director, Guidebook.