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Do these before you design Mobile UX - Part 2

14 min read

Mobile UX can’t be overlooked as worldwide millions of people are using mobile apps more than desktop sites. So it’s very important for mobile designers to consider some mobile UX best practices at every step of the design process. In this blog, we will be taking a look at the best practices.

We already have posted regarding things to keep in mind before jumping onto mobile UX. If you haven’t checked yet, please go through this - Do these before you design Mobile UX - Part 1​.

What Is Mobile UX Design?

Mobile user experience (UX) design refers to the design of positive experiences during the use of mobile devices and wearables, and applications or services running on such devices. Mobile UX design focuses strongly on efficiency and discoverability.

A good UX is what separates successful apps from unsuccessful ones. Today, mobile users expect a lot from an app: fast loading time, ease of use and delight during interaction. If you want your app to be successful, you have to consider UX to be not just a minor aspect of design, but an essential component of product strategy.

If you think good design is expensive, you should look at the cost of bad design. Dr. Ralf Speth, Chief Executive Officer, Jaguar Land Rover

Best Practices for Mobile UX Design

Mobile UX design is tricky, there are so many things we have to consider. Like an increasing list of mobile devices, the ways people interact with them, and consistency people want in their experiences.

Google published 25 mobile UX design best practices based on internal research in 2015. And they’ve recently updated them to bring them more up-to-date. Apple has also his own design principles which are mentioned in Apple’s Human Interface Guidelines for mobile devices. For any mobile UX designers, these guidelines are a great source of inspiration for delivering high-quality user experience.

As I mentioned earlier, there are many things we have to consider while designing an app but in this article, I’ve summarized a lot of practical recommendations that you can apply to your design.

  • Focus on speed

    Loading time is extremely important for the UX. As technology progresses, we get more impatient, and today, 47% of users expect a page to load in 2 seconds or less. If a page takes more time to load, visitors might become frustrated and leave. That’s why speed should be a priority when building a mobile app.

  • Content should be optimized for mobile

    Content plays a significant role in design. The content has to be easy to digest. Make sure, the text should be readable and legible. If users can’t read your content, there’s no point in offering content in the first place.

    • You need to keep a few things in mind, font size, font family, contrast, etc.

    • A few recommendations for readability: avoid all caps, limit the length of text lines, don’t squeeze lines

    Typography needs to be audible. Typography needs to be felt. Typography needs to be experienced. Helmut Schmid, Graphic Designer and Typographer

  • Design for touch

    Designing for touch has a goal of reducing the number of incorrect inputs and making interaction with an app more comfortable.

    • When you’re designing actionable elements in a mobile interface, it’s essential to make targets big enough so that they’re easy for users to tap.

    • Consider the Thumb Zone. Thumb zone is the area of a phone’s screen that can be easily accessed with the thumb when a person is holding their phone with one hand. You should put the majority of interactive content in this zone to create a positive UX.

    • People expect a response from digital UI controls. You’ll need to provide instant feedback on every user interaction. If your app doesn’t provide feedback, the user will wonder if it has frozen or if they missed the target. The feedback could be visual (highlighting a tapped button) or tactile (a device vibration on input).

  • Break tasks into smaller chunks

    This principle is extremely important in mobile design because you don’t want to create too much complexity for the user at one time. If you think your task contains a lot of steps and actions required from the user’s side, it’s better to divide such tasks into a number of subtasks.

  • Minimize data input

    Minimize the amount of typing required on a small device as typing on a mobile device is a slow and error-prone process. Keep forms as short and simple as possible and try to exclude unnecessary fields. Also, when possible, present choices instead of input fields because it’s easier to choose from a list of predefined options than to type a response. Another option is to provide input masks. Field masking is a technique that helps users format inputted text. You can use that in a phone number or credit/debit card number fields.

  • Foresee user needs

    You need to look for steps in the user journey where users might need help. For example, in one of your forms, you want a model number of the laptop. Now, it is not obvious where the user can find the model number from the invoice. Concise help text next to the input field would be very useful.

  • Cut out the jargon

    One of the significant characteristics of effective UX is clarity and simplicity. For clarity, you need to remove the technical terms, acronyms, slang words and use familiar, understandable words. Unknown terms or phrases will increase the cognitive load for the user.

  • Understand the importance of visual weight

    The most important element on the screen should have the most visual weight. You can add more weight to the element by font size, color, etc. As a user can instantly catch the important stuff from the screen.

  • Make sure your design is consistent

    Consistency eliminates confusion. Regarding mobile apps, consistency means, typefaces, buttons and labels need to be consistent throughout the app.

A consistent experience is a better experience. Mark Eberman

Interactive elements should work similarly in all parts of your app. Use native components as much as possible, so that people trust your app. Also, keep in mind that if you have a web service and a mobile app, make sure that both of them share similar characteristics.

  • Focus on First-Impression

    The first-time experience is a make or break part of mobile apps. If you fail at first-impression, there’s a huge probability that users won’t launch your app again. Make sure,

    • You avoid sign-in walls. Only ask users to register if it’s essential. For example, if core features of your app are available only when users complete registration. And even in this case, it’s better to delay sign-in as long as possible, allow users to experience the app for a little while and only then gently remind them to sign up.

    • You provide good onboarding experience to the user. But the definition of ‘good’ varies depending on different kinds of apps. For example, apps that are straight to use need minimal onboarding. But for complex apps like project management, invoicing, need in-depth onboarding.

  • Don’t ask for permissions right at the beginning

    Avoid asking for permission when the user is launching the app. Requesting permission at launch should be done only when it’s necessary for your app’s core function. Like, it’s obvious if a photo editor app requests for photos. But for any other cases, ask for permissions in context. Users are more likely to grant permission if asked during a relevant task. Also, explain why your app needs the information if it’s not obvious.

  • Error messages should be meaningful

    Errors occur when people engage with apps. The reason can be anything either user makes a mistake or the app fails. Whatever the cause, errors should be handled very well. Bad error handling paired with useless error messages can fill users with frustration and could be the reason why users abandon your app. You shouldn’t assume that users are tech-savvy. Instead, you need to assume they don’t know anything. Each error message should tell users:

    • What went wrong and possibly why.

    • What’s the next step the user should take to fix the error.

    Users are not always logical, at least not on the surface. To be a great designer you need to look a little deeper into how people think and act.” Paul Boag (UX Consultant & expert in Digital Transformation)

  • BACK button should work appropriately

    Assume that you’re using an app, and you tap on the ‘back’ button and it takes you to the home page directly. The app doesn’t leave a good impression on you, right? An improperly created “back” button can cause a lot of problems for users. Good design makes it easier for users to go back and make corrections.

    Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.

  • Navigations should be simple

    Helping users navigate should be a high priority for every app. All the cool features that your app has won’t matter if people can’t find them; also, if it takes too much time or effort to discover how to navigate your product. People won’t come back to your app and will look for other options.

    • Use standard navigation patterns, such as the tab bar (for iOS) and the navigation drawer (for Android).

    • When you choose a primary navigation pattern for your app, use it consistently. There shouldn’t be a situation in which part of your app has a tab bar, while another part has a side drawer.

    • Navigation should be available at all times, not just when we anticipate that the user needs it.

  • Optimize Push Notifications

    According to 71% of respondents, annoying notifications are the number 1 reason for uninstalling mobile apps. Send push notifications if they’re necessary, each notification should be valuable.

All I can say is designing a good user experience for a mobile app is about finding the right balance between two things: managing the expectations users have upon seeing the app for the first time, and keeping them sufficiently excited as they discover what’s possible in the app. Most importantly, try to know who is your audience, what’s their needs. Because the better you know the audience, the right experience you can create for them. At the end of the day, you should provide seamless user experience to the users.

We hope that this 2 part article will help you when working on your next Mobile app UX design!

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