I recently wrote an article for Appbooker.com’s new monthly magazine, which covered five useful tips when designing a mobile interface. The article below is an extended version of the one that can be found in the Appbooker magazine which is published by Aston Greenlake and a supplement in Talk Business magazine.
Understand your audience.
Determining your target market is key to designing a great user experience. Mobile users generally fall into two categories, those who want to find a specific piece of information or complete a specific task, and those that look to browse around and fill time. On average eighty percent of mobile users will use just twenty percent of your apps functionality, so If your service is already online a great way of ensuring you’re prioritising the right user functions and content is to look through the websites analytics to see how your customers interact with your site, this can give valuable insight into making sure you’re design around the most important content.
Take into account platform UX
The dominant handset manufacturers like Apple and Google have invested billions in ensuring users know exactly what to expect when they press a button or make a touch gesture, your app UX should be a consistent experience and not go against what they’re used to. Designing a custom interface which might not work in this way will likely make your marketing or brand team happy but could easily confuse users, leading to engagement and adoption drop off. Familiarise yourself with the devices your designing for, spend a month or so learning the device, you’ll learn more from using a device than from any guidelines. Understand how users hold devices and how to layout your interface. Generally speaking, buttons in the top left of the screen held by right handed users are harder to access and less accidentally pressed, buttons in the bottom right are more accessible, so consider using these areas for your ‘calls to action’.
Design for interruption
One of the unfortunate by-products of having mobile devices that are carried with us wherever we go and do an un-ending number of task is inevitably, the user is going to be distracted, either by something in the real world or from within the device it’s self. Make your user interface clean and simple. This way you can help reduce disengagement and make sure that the experience is such that if they’re ejected from your app due to an incoming call they can easily pick up from where they left off, there’s nothing more frustrating than being taking back to the beginning of a user journey. Break up processes and save the app state or user data regularly so they can easily jump back in.
We’re all time poor
My headmistress once asked me ‘How do you eat an Elephant?’ The answer, a little at a time. The same applies to mobile design. Try to sense the users intent and show a consistent interface that’s not cluttered allowing them to swiftly move through to complete their task yet fluidly react to uncovering information they weren’t expecting. Mobile users want to complete tasks, whether broad, for example browsing news articles, or specific, like checking train or flight times.
Your UI will never be perfect
Ultimately even the most well thought out and planned UI will uncover flaws when released into the real world. Treat your app as an ever evolving entity, adjusting your product as new technology and techniques come about, gather usability data, user feedback and analytics to help direct updates. If you’re part of a team, using an agile development methodology can help to mold your team and workload to deal with unforeseen updates whilst maintaining visibility on your existing product roadmap.