5 Mobile User Experience Tips
While designing for mobile is a complex process, the following guidelines provide a foundational starting point.
Understand Your Audience and Design for Their Goals
When designing for mobile, focusing on the user is key. This means streamlining the interface so that no unnecessary features are included, along with creating a design that is “quick, nimble, focused and stripped down,” according to UX For The Masses. Designers should consider what users are aiming to accomplish and determine how best to help them get there.
For a clear understanding of users, it’s smart to complete detailed research into their attitudes and behaviors. Armed with this data, you can design for your target audience and put yourself in the mind of the user from pre-planning to launch.
Design Hand Controls Based on Hand Position
In his research on mobile device usage, Steven Hoober found that 49 percent of people use just one thumb to navigate their smartphones. Statistics like this mean that designers have to pay close attention to hand position and grip when designing app and web interfaces. Putting common actions in easy-to-reach areas of the screen enables users to more easily interact with apps and mobile sites. To ensure that a design is functional, it is important to test its ergonomics with a wide variety of people and devices. Seeing how people interact with the interface can give you insight into design functionality.
Minimize the Amount of Typing Required
Anyone who has used a mobile device knows that typing on a touch screen is a slow and difficult process. Good UX design uses typing sparingly and only when strictly necessary. There are a few ways to do this: “Keep forms as short and simple as possible by removing any unnecessary fields. Use auto-complete and personalized data where appropriate so that users only have to enter the bare minimum of information,” user experience resource UX Planet suggests.
A mobile site or app should also remember addresses, phone numbers and other details so that the user only has to enter them once. Some other good tactics are to give users a “show password” option when passwords are required and providing either alphabetical or numerical keyboards as necessary, rather than both.
Ensure Text Content Is Readable
Most mobile devices have significantly smaller screens than their desktop counterparts. This means that mobile UX designers are tasked with designing for less space. However, thinking small may not be the solution. Instead of focusing on providing as much information as possible within limited space, designers should prioritize the most important information.
UX Planet provides the following rules of thumb for mobile: “Text should be at least 11 points so it’s legible at a typical viewing distance without zooming. Improve legibility by increasing line height or letter spacing.” In addition, incorporating enough white space into your design can make the various elements easier to read.
Test Your Design
Testing is an important part of the web design process, and mobile experiences are no exception. UX professionals should constantly evaluate their interface for user-friendliness. “Treat your app as a continuously evolving entity, using data from analytics and user feedback to constantly improve the experience,” UX Planet suggests.
Similar to designing for hand position, you should test with real people on several different mobile devices. This ensures that you create a design that can carry out realistic tasks for real users. With the wide variety of tools available, it is easy to test an existing interface, a prototype, and even the live site.