Our society is always on the go. Everything that works on a desktop needs to work on mobile devices.
Mobile optimization is not an afterthought in UX. Statistics show that internet access through mobile devices makes up more than half of the global web traffic. Technology gives us solutions to several everyday needs, and mobile devices make those solutions more immediate.
UX designers consider the circumstances the user is under when interacting with a product. Whether adjusting an interface for smaller screens or translating it into a convenient mobile app, a good design should be intuitive and user-friendly across all devices.
Every device has its limitations, so some adjustments are necessary to ensure a smooth UX. These design principles help improve the usability and overall experience of your mobile interface.
- Hand Position Controls
Our thumbs can only stretch so far.
The most comfortable way we use our phones is to hold them in one hand and let our thumbs do the scrolling. Depending on the user's device or hand size, it may be hard to reach some elements on the screen.
This illustration shows the easiest and most difficult places to reach on the screen. Think of this as a framework for mapping out a mobile design. Keep the most important elements near the center and the less important ones along the border.
- Content Placement
Speaking of the most important elements…
A smaller screen means limited space, but that doesn’t mean you need to clutter all your content together to make it fit. Prioritize the importance of your content and let that shape the placement on the page. Our attention spans are short when we’re using our phones, so be sure the content on your homepage catches your user's attention right away.
Plan the map of the interface around the user’s goals. Why are they using your app, and what are they trying to accomplish? Landing page rules apply here — your user should understand the function right away and know where to go to complete their goals.
- Intuitive Navigation
Simple designs are king in web design and emperor in mobile UX.
There are more incidental and environmental factors at play when using a mobile device. For example, the user could be at the grocery store needing to check their account balance through their bank’s app. They don’t have time to stop and go through multiple steps to accomplish a simple goal.
Painless, logical navigation is essential when we’re on the go and need something done quickly. Try using minimalist designs, unambiguous CTAs, and recognizable symbols (ex: a trash can icon to delete things, a bell icon for notifications, etc).
- Tap/Swipe Friendliness
Our fingers are much less precise than a mouse.
When you have external links clustered together or small CTA buttons, it’s likely the user will end up clicking the wrong thing. Make sure control buttons, links, and CTAs are large enough for our fingers to target them.
Swiping is also an easy way for the user to control the interface. How many apps do you know of that built their entire navigation around swiping? It’s designed to keep us engaged for hours because we only see one piece of content at a time — so incorporate swiping when appropriate.
- Minimize Typing
It’s hard to walk and type at the same time.
When we’re on the go, we may not have time to fully formulate our thoughts and type them out in a way that makes sense. You don’t have to eliminate keyboards altogether, but there are a few ways to minimize the need for typing.
More and more digital products have voice UI because it’s so much faster to speak than type. Autocomplete features can also help the user quickly finish words and sentences when they’re on the move. You can also streamline logins by using thumbprint verification. As technology evolves, our options become limitless!
- Text Legibility
Don't make text smaller to fit the screen.
Good designs are legible and easy to navigate. The biggest part of UX is communicating with your user. If your content is hard to see, they’ll have a hard time comprehending your interface. A good rule of thumb is to keep text above an 11-point font so it’s visible without zooming in.
Let’s go back to content prioritization for a minute. On top of looking messy, cluttering your content onto the page distracts from any important messaging you are trying to communicate. Decide which pieces of text are the most important and make sure your user can read your content without struggle.
- Environmental Adjustment
Day or night, make sure your design can be seen!
Outdoor conditions can affect our technology. Some lighting and environmental conditions are less than favorable for screens. We’re reliant on apps when we’re out, and we need to use them no matter what mother nature throws our way.
Make sure your page elements are visible in all conditions. This is possible when there is enough color contrast between the background and controls/text. The user should be able to identify important icons so they can navigate the page under poor lighting.
So Why Is This Important?
As smartphone usage increases, there is almost an expectation that every website has a mobile version to match. These design principles help us translate the things that work on a desktop into an interface that can be used anywhere.
Over half of the world’s internet traffic comes from mobile devices and that number is only going to go up! As UX designers, we need to ensure our solutions work on all devices to keep users engaged and satisfied.
Do you have an awesome site that’s ready to go mobile? CreateApe can help! Contact us here.