Mobile technology has proven to be a great equalizer for business. Small startups with their mobile applications are now in a position to take on big brands with ease. As mobile technology develops and becomes an integral part of everyday life, mobile user experience (UX) is taking center stage, as the reason that separates successful mobile applications from unsuccessful ones. Even if the UX designers are not involved in the actual design process, knowing some basic concepts of mobile application design still helps them produce better concepts and provide better feedback to the interface designers.
1. Keep it simple & short
Mobile users neither have the time or the inclination to read instruction manuals. Prompts and coach marks are fine, but as the UX developer, if you have to put up FAQs in your app, you’ve probably gone wrong somewhere. The simpler the app, the better it is.
2. Pay attention to platform UX
Apple iOS, Google Android and rest of the platform developers have invested billions in their designs. Developing mobile application interfaces that do not work seamlessly with the operating system will possibly make your brand team happy, but probably not the users. Take a cue from the OS-native interface kit, and incorporate your interface elements subtly without altering the underlying functions.
3. Identify your users
Mobile users fall in one of the two categories — hunters looking for specific information or a specific task, and gatherers looking to browse or fill time. For hunters, focus on features that accomplish tasks with ease and in the least number of steps. For gatherers, give them fast access to a broad set of information, and identify possible ways to retain them.
4. Accomplish tasks
Mobile users expect to accomplish tasks quickly. Each function of your app should help them with that — discard everything else. Remember, you can’t afford to waste time or space. Try to perceive their intent, and aim to deliver the relevant possibilities to the user.
5. Design for interruption
By design, mobile phones go anywhere with the user and accomplish hundreds of tasks, interruptions become inevitable — either in real life, or from within the phone. With simple design elements and clean interface, you reduce the cognitive load on the user, making it less likely for them to disengage from the app. It is imperative to ensure that it is easy to pick up from where they left off if need be.
6. Your design isn’t always perfect
Even the most well designed UX contains some unseen flaws when exposed to the real world. This may start before users get their hands on it. A top-down approach of shrinking your desktop experience is not the way to proceed for a mobile platform. Start from the bottom, keep the customer experience you wish for as your target, and build upwards. Some ideas may prove technically unfeasible during development, don’t throw them out just yet. Revisit the drawing board if need be and regard your design as an entity that is continuously evolving with experience and user feedback.
7. Above all, follow your own experience
Remember, that above all, the differences between a mobile experience and traditional digital design is that the small, slow hardware mean there is little room for overly flabby layout and feature sets akin to the desktop. Even if you have no experience designing mobile, this constraint near enough forces you into following classic design best practices with more time to spend on truly innovating with the app as a whole.
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