In the world of mobile apps, first impressions are indeed the last impression. Hence, user experience design matters.
As the demand for mobile applications increases with each passing year, so do the expectations from these. The number of mobile users is projected to hit 6.95 billion this year and likely to rise to 7.1 billion in 2021. 2.8 million apps are already available for download on the Play Store, and with ever-increasing competition, the battle for winning the mobile app loyalty begins with mobile User Experience design.
UX Design Matters
Statistics show that more than nearly 90% of the time spent on a smartphone is on a mobile application. Users expect a seamless, personalized, and up to date user experience that helps them execute their tasks in the least possible steps.
Every $1 invested in UX yields a return of $100 (ROI = 9,900%), and studies show that UX design can also boost customer retention by 5%. When UX improves customer experience, it has the potential of raising company KPI’s to 83% in the conversion lift.
You have to look at Airbnb to understand the business case of UX.
Joe Gebbia of Airbnb credits UX for taking the company to the 10 billion mark!
With the Millennials and GenZ now assuming dominant roles in the consumer space, it becomes all the more important to pay close attention to UX design. This is especially so since User Experience feeds into the customer experience.
In 2020, since customer experience has overtaken price and product as the key differentiator, it makes good business sense to pay extremely close attention to how the user experience shapes up.
Since all mobile User Experience designs are not equal, here are some do’s and don’ts to follow.
The Do’s of Good User Experience Design
Do – Identify User Needs
Before jumping on to the drawing board, it is essential to have a clear comprehension of all the user needs. UX design has to create the right experiences and avoid a false consensus effect.
Understanding the needs of the user, their motivations, conducting competitive analysis, and understanding user pain points are essential to create a user experience design that will drive user interaction with the application.
Do Prioritize the Features
While features do contribute to increased app adoption, there is such a thing called “too many features”. Adding too many features to the application in the first go can end up confusing the user, especially the first-time user. This is even more relevant for enterprise applications since they are more complex.
Good User Experience design has to focus on providing a limited set of relevant and contextual features that are in demand. For this, it is essential to prioritize the features based on their importance by understanding the core objectives of the application.
Do – Make Navigation Clear and Concise
User experience design has to be simple and straightforward. Its primary focus has to be on ensuring that the user can navigate the application by themselves. “Don’t make me think” and “keep it simple” are two good mantras to follow as guiding principles for this.
The information architecture of the UX design thus has to organize information in a manner to allow the user to reach their end goal in the least number of steps.
Do – Focus on Standardization
Sometimes, to stand out, you need to blend in.
In the case of user experience design, standardization is a valuable contributor to good user experience.
Providing standard symbols and controls for common actions is essential since they build familiarity and help the user perform the actions with ease. Good UX design thus employs standard gestures for shortcuts and avoids them for non-standard actions.
Do – Clear the Clutter
Too much of anything, even a good thing, can be bad. This life lesson lends itself beautifully to user experience design as well. When it comes to UX, less is always more. Keep out excess information since it only contributes to confusion. Keeping in mind the limited space on mobile screens, it is essential to make judicious use of this prime real estate.
Elements such as unnecessary texts, images, buttons, etc. elements that form the crux of the user interface, also influence user experience. A clean UI that highlights only the essential, keeps out the clutter, keeps custom gestures clear and simple, enables easy navigation, and provides accessibility drives up user experience. It is also important to ensure that all text is legible and easy to comprehend and that there is minimal need for typing.
Do – Provide a Seamless Experience
UX design for a mobile application is not restricted to the mobile application alone.
Since the world has become digitally defined, success comes from the sum of our collective digital experiences. In this digitally mature world, mobile applications cannot just provide stand-alone experiences. Users now manage different devices with ease, and they expect the application to provide a seamless and flawless experience across this device ecosystem. User experience design has to consider and allow this.
The Don’ts of User Experience Design
Don’t put Technology First
While it can be enticing to get attracted to the plethora of shiny new technologies, instead of being swayed by the ‘new’ technology for UX, it is important to use the ‘right’ technology.
Technology choices have to be driven by the objective and the purpose of the application and its performance and security requirements. So, if the latest technology does not serve the purpose of the application then one must walk away from it. Not doing so ends up impacting user experience negatively.
Don’t Forget Testing
No, we are not talking only about User Experience testing. Along with user experience testing, it is important to also test the influencers of user experience. How much time does the page take to load? Can the mobile app handle a sudden spike in traffic? Is the performance of the application optimal? Are there bugs making the application slow? What are the things impacting application performance? Is the application and network architecture secure?
Simply put, user experience design is not just about the design of the application. The quality of all interactions determines the quality of the user experience. Testing all aspects of the mobile application thus becomes imperative to deliver elevated user experiences.
Don’t Complicate Sign ups
A simple sign up process is essential for delivering an optimized user experience. Users do not want to go through a complicated sign-up or get directed to other browsers or links. A simple sign up process has to include only those elements that users understand and need.
Conversing with the users using simple language, avoiding jargon, and not asking too many permissions in the very beginning are good points to note. Users also need to feel that the application is responsive and speedy. User experience design has to thus make sure that there is no blank screen when a page is loading. This can make it seem like the app is frozen and lead to confusion amongst users, especially when this happens during the sign-up.
Don’t Forget Finger-Friendly Taps
Buttons are a mobile application’s best friend. However, small touch targets can be a common source of problems for mobile users. Good user experience has to focus on getting the size of the small touch controls right and making sure that they are small enough to be aesthetically correct and yet big enough for users to tap on. Providing ample touch targets for interactive elements and ensuring the right amount of spacing between targets can be the difference between user experience heaven and hell.
Apart from these key aspects, it is important to remember that when designing the user experience for mobile, do not replicate a web experience.
Certain interaction patterns and interface elements are native to mobile apps that users expect. Deviating from those and designing mobile app experiences as web experiences make the app awkward and confusing. Using underlined links in mobile apps, dead-end pages as error states, taking users to a browser, etc. are actions that will frustrate mobile users and increase app abandonment.
Expectations from mobile applications are increasing and will only move along an incremental path. Matching these expectations are not just important but are essential when you want to move users from being application adopters to becoming application advocates. However, since user expectations keep evolving, UX design has to evolve as well.
It becomes important to remember that user experience design is not a one-time task. It is a continuous process.