UX design is a main facet in designing the ultimate mobile user experience. In itself, it is a combination of both motion and graphic design and it’s primary focus is designing for interactive experiences. Product design is the closest thing to UX design as it gets. UX designers design in a virtual world.
Someone who designs for the web is essentially a UX designer.
Designing a mobile app can be likened to drawing a picture of the app as designing a motorcycle is akin to drawing a picture of a motorcycle. Just as a motorcycle designer knows what elements go into the motorcycle, a UX designer knows the elements involved that go into designing an app.
As technology develops and mobile channels mature, UX design will also. Solid UX design is what makes a successful app and distinguishes it from an unsuccessful one. Smaller publishers can easily outdo their big brand counterparts by creating more attractive apps.
Many UX designers feel that by shrinking their designs down from web to mobile is the way to go. Unfortunately it isn’t that easy. Ideas for mobile UX are mobile for a reason. It would be hard for a UX designer to design for mobile devices in the same fashion. Adaptation is required.
Below are a few best practices for designing for the mobile user.
Knowing your Audience
Identifying your users is paramount to effective UX design and you should realize that mobile users can be essentially divided into two groups:
- Those who like to hunt – People who are looking for specific information and they want it fast!
- Those who gather – People who are looking to pass the time and just browse around, not looking to complete a specific task.
That being said, if your target audience is comprised of hunters, then you should focus on getting them what they want as quickly as possible, with nothing getting in the way of doing that. If your audience is made up of gatherers, you should be engaging them with compelling and relevant content.
The key to effective mobile UX design is not being too broad with your design. Just choose your target audience and design for them. You can always design another app.
The typical rule to remember is that 80% of your users will just use 20% of the functions your app offers. The best way to design for this is to take a look at your website and see what features are used most. Use that info to trim down your set of features as much as possible to ensure that this 20% is as simple and intuitive as it can be.
Design with the platform in mind
Know the device you are designing for. People get used to their mobile devices, so much so that they can operate them in the dark. If you’re working on the design for an Android app, be sure not to use iOS-like buttons and vice versa. Otherwise, it will just lead to confusion and users will drop your app just like a bad habit.
Don’t Skimp on Functionality
Let’s face it. A mobile device is not a desktop. However, you should be able to include functionality inherent in other apps in your category. You don’t need to start from scratch. If your app tracks the best hotel prices, there is no reason not to include functions such as check in times, off peak prices, availability and other statuses, things that are crucial to creating the ultimate user experience.
It is essential to know that your design isn’t perfect. There are always some flaws that are unseen when you leave your virtual toolbox and put them into the palms of real users. When your knee deep in development, some of your ideas may prove to be unfeasible. However that does not mean you need to throw them out. You can always return to the app drawing board and refine it, deliver it and by using such a tool as visual in-app analytics you will be able to see your design being used as you were looking at and interacting with the app through your users’ eyes.
You should be treating your app not as a static entity, but as one that is always evolving, one that is always being optimized using feedback from users, analytics data and new technologies to improve the mobile user experience.