There are millions of mobile apps on the market that cater to a very wide range of consumer needs and interests. The quality and functionally may differ depending on the quality of the app, but there is something that the most successful ones have in common – great user experience (UX).
In order to achieve this, UX designers can follow a number of practical tips to ensure that users stay engaged and seamlessly interact with a mobile app. A good place to start for designers would be defining the core purpose of why people would want to use your app in the first place, and keeping that objective in mind throughout the whole design process.
The need for speed
As technology continues to advance, the patience that users have for browsing through apps and websites seems to be waning. Why should users have to spend time navigating through an app, when they are usually able to find what they are looking for on the web within a few seconds and clicks?
A survey by Google and Ipsos found that 29 percent of Smartphone users will automatically switch to another website or app if it is too slow or difficult to use, while 70 percent of those who make the switch do so because of a delay in loading. These figures demonstrate the need for designers to ensure that apps function quickly and efficiently. Getting the speed and loading time right is key to optimizing the mobile experience.
White space is your friend
White space serves an incredibly important purpose to the UX mobile design experience. Yet, it is one of the most overlooked tools by designers today. There are a few reasons why using white space can help improve the quality of the mobile UX. The most obvious one is the fact that it helps keep all the design elements (icons, content, images, graphics, etc.) balanced and organized in a way that is aesthetically pleasing to the user.
People don’t typically respond well when they are overwhelming with too much information. Most users actually prefer to get just the bullet points or key information that is relevant or useful to them. So, in order to keep them engaged, designers can use white space and contrast to help guide them through the content and draw their attention to specific sections of the layout.
Design for a one-handed experience
According to research by mobile UX consultant and researcher Steven Hoober, 49 percent of users hold their mobile phones in one hand, as opposed to only 15% who use both hands. It is also important to note that when it comes to one-handed mobile experiences, there are often other outside elements involved that can divert a user’s attention. This is why designers are increasingly using the “one thumb, one eyeball” test to ensure that users can still easily use the app and complete tasks with one hand, even with several distractions around them.
Know when to use notifications
When it comes to consumer attitudes toward push notifications, it appears that there are two sides to the same coin. A recent study by Localytics finds that over 50% of app users found push notifications to be annoying and intrusive, while the other half of respondents found them to be useful.
A common mistake designers make is using cookie-cutter marketing messages that are pushed through notifications on Smartphone apps. This spam-like practice typically turns users off and leads them to stop using or remove apps altogether. Mobile users expect a higher degree of personalization than website users, which is why it’s crucial for companies to use personalized content to garner their interest.
Prototype prior to coding
Industry experts highly recommend testing a prototype out before any coding is done on mobile apps. This strategy saves money and time, as it is an expensive and frustrating process to constantly make changes in code, as opposed to just having a designer make a quick adjustment in Adobe Illustrator or any other prototyping tool.
Once you have a prototype ready, getting early feedback can make all the difference. This is where user tests come in to provide you with valuable insights on what’s working for mobile app users and what still needs to be tweaked. Keep in mind that the usability testing process can be tedious, involving several rounds of adjustments that may be required to fix all design flaws and functionality issues.
The rapid pace of technology has made it trickier to keep up with the needs and preferences of users. However the practical tips mentioned above can help designers create better apps that users will love. By keeping important factors in mind like the need to focus on speed, balanced design, the one-handed experience, personalized push notifications, and prototyping before coding, designers can improve their chances of delivering an exceptional mobile product.
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