Mobile UX – Designing for apps
Mobile is the future of the web.
Recent advancements in the tech space have led to the creation of smartphones that are just as powerful as laptops. And given this, there is no reason why users wouldn’t prefer mobiles over desktops for the convenience and ease of use they offer.
Don’t believe us?
According to a study by data.ai, a mobile data and analytics firm, global consumers now spend an average of 4.2 hours per day using apps on their smartphones. An increase of 30% in comparison to two years prior.
Another study relying on data from mobile trade body GSMA has predicted that nearly 3/4th of the world will use their smartphones to access the internet by 2025.
So, what does this mean for you as a business?
If you do not have a mobile app yet, you still have the opportunity to get in on the ground floor and make your app synonymous with your industry – think WhatsApp for messaging, Google as a search engine or MS Office as a suite of productivity tools. And we can help you do that.
There are many things that separate these market leaders from others, but one factor of key relevance is user experience. As a UX design agency this is where our expertise lies. If you have an app but it isn’t getting much traction or if you’d like to create one, we urge you to reach out to us by dropping us a message.
However, we’re also big on DIY, so read on if you’d like to learn more on how you can optimise your mobile UX design.
But before, let’s look at what separates the mobile app design process from a desktop app.
Mobile app design constraints
Mobile apps are not the same as desktop apps. With desktops, users are always focused on the task at hand. But in the case of mobile, multitasking is the norm.
The last time you were travelling somewhere and got a bill payment notification on your mobile, did you pay the bill right away because it only takes a second or did you wait until you got home/office logged online and paid the bill? For most people, the prior is true.
Similarly, when you get a work email, you might check it out on your mobile, but you’ll seldom get to work on that device.
Owing to these differences, you need to understand the constraints of smartphones before designing effective interfaces for them.
One of the most noticeable differences between mobile and desktop is the device’s screen size. Multitasking is not possible on mobile due to the small screen size, but it is possible on desktops. As a result, the user flow of an app must be simple, straightforward, and to the point. When the user is using an app, they shouldn’t have to switch apps or copy-paste content from any place outside the current app.
Apps are stored in the smartphone’s memory. Thus when designing app UX, you have to take into consideration the fact that mobiles have limited storage and design accordingly. Because limitations on the quality of video, audio, and images will impact UX.
Controls and cues
Desktop and mobile are also different because of their usage – how they are held, what they are used for etc. There are established patterns for both that vary widely and being aware of them will help you create familiar and efficient mobile experiences. For example, people might hold their mobile devices in various ways but they will still dominantly use their thumb for interacting.
Although these seem simple to contribute to a good app design, these fundamentals are often where people go wrong.
UX Design for mobile apps tips
The design process for mobile apps isn’t inherently different from that of any good, user-centred product. It is the approach to the steps that are tweaked.
As with any good UX project, research forms the base on which your mobile app design decisions will rest. Research about what purpose your app would serve, who would be your target users, what OS users’ smartphones have etc.
Most mobile apps are not multi-purpose. They are targeted, and thus need to be designed as such. Also, avoid making the mistake of trying to load your app with all sorts of functionality that is remotely connected. A highly specific, clutter-free app will increase retention and reduce drop-off like no other.
Mobile apps are easily prone to cognitive overload because of their limited dimensions. To negate this, it is important that you create designs that are simple – easy to navigate, task-focused, and without an overwhelming UI.
There are many different mobile apps that serve many different purposes. When you design an app, yours will be amongst one of these too. So how do you make users feel comfortable with your app when they first onboard?
By using familiar navigational patterns and including clear CTA at every step to guide users.
It is now possible to also ensure accessibility of your app without having to compromise on any UX aspect. Factors like easily clickable touch targets, readable text, colour contrast, and interaction on feedback need to be given importance to improve the accessibility of the app.
A lot of the principles that apply to the web, also apply to mobile. If you want to read further on accessibility, check out our blog
Data input on mobile and desktop is substantially different. Therefore, applying the same principles will lead to a catastrophic failure. Typing is slow and error-prone on mobile and it is therefore advisable to minimize typing on small devices. Minimal typing, default over custom data input and using the right input tool for different data are key.
Mobile apps are important in the digital space. And, they aren’t going anywhere, at least not in the visible future. Their role will only increase henceforth. Even Google has announced that mobile-first indexing is used for over half of its web pages.
Thus, if you are a business that has so far neglected mobile apps because you’ve done well on the web, we might be just the push you need for optimizing your app and improving your business KPIs.