Sit back and take a minute to think about it: what would you do without your mobile phone? All of us have experienced what it’s like to do without it, maybe when an accident broke it or in a moment of distraction, left it forgotten somewhere. Being without your mobile device feels like losing a vital part of your life. Such is the impact the mobile revolution has had on our daily living and the vast majority of us have fallen madly in love with our smartphones. We cannot help being pulled in by the allure of readily available information, the comfort of having services just a tap away, and the appeal of having access to the world at our fingertips.
We welcome this pervasive infiltration of mobile technology because it makes life a whole lot easier. That said, we are spending more time on our smartphones and tablets than ever before. This daily interaction means we, as users, expect high performance from our mobile apps, and their use should be quick and simple. Anything else and it’s deleted. There’s nothing worse than an app that doesn’t behave or perform as we expect it to. Our standards as mobile users have been set, we’re savvy and we demand a seamless interaction with technology.
So, app developers and designers, it’s time to listen up. With such vast market availability, mobile user tolerance is running pretty low these days. This means you have to take user experience to heart. A successful app is one that acknowledges its end-user throughout its design and development, one that makes UX/UI a core component of its product strategy.
There are only two basic concepts to cover:
User Experience (UX) - the general experience of the user when interacting with an app: how easy it is to use, how simple it is to navigate, how agreeable the experience is, etc.
User Interface (UI) - includes the components and layout that the user interacts with; it’s what you see on the screen of your smartphone or tablet when using an app.
Closely linked yet different, these core elements need to be considered together in order to achieve a successful app design.
Why Does It Matter?
Because it’s everywhere. Regardless of size and industry, any business that wishes to thrive in the digital landscape and connect with customers offers an app.
But it’s not about offering users flashy software that looks spectacular. If the UI of the app turns out to be confusing and hard to navigate, all the extravagant visuals will not be relevant. Users will walk away from it without a second thought if they can’t perform tasks easily. This doesn’t mean the visual aspects are not important, though. An app should be aesthetically pleasing (you need to catch your users' attention!) but at the same time, it needs to be simple to use. While designing an app, you always have to keep one thing in mind: the attention span of mobile users is very short; as is their patience. Whatever the purpose of your app, it needs to make things easy for your users.
It’s one of the basic premises of UX: if the product design does not take the final user into account, then in all probability, it will result in failure. So make a point of applying good UX/UI practices from the very beginning. Not only will this save you time, but it will also help you retain customers in the long run.
Key Elements of Mobile UX/UI
To begin with, you need to put your user first: whatever your project, you need to know your target audience and market. Mobile app development should always start with thorough research. No exceptions. The first step of the journey is knowing your users’ requirements since this will lead to effective user experience design. Remember, you are designing/developing for your end-user, not for yourself.
When you know exactly what your users need and expect, your app design/development can begin. Once you sit down and start creating your app, it’s important to always keep the following in mind:
Easy navigation is a fundamental pillar when it comes to good UX design for mobile apps and can only be achieved when you know what’s truly important and what isn’t. Choosing what should be displayed on the UI and what should be hidden is crucial. Users should be able to perform their tasks on the app by following just a few straightforward steps.
Simple Yet Apparent
Apart from being easy to use, whatever features your app includes - keyboard dictation, for example - should be visually apparent. They should not be hidden within the UI. This ties up with what we mentioned previously: whatever you choose to display on the UI needs to be evident so it’s easy for users to find.
Magic at Your Fingertips
Touch screens are the main means of interaction with mobile apps. This means app design should always be finger-friendly. Whatever gestures are enabled on your app (be it touch and hold, double-tapping, pinching and zooming, etc.), these should be very simple to perform.
This is a fundamental part of mobile app development. Screens vary in size throughout the wide spectrum of available devices, from smartphones to tablets. Whatever the purpose of your application, it needs to be fit to view on any screen size and in any orientation (landscape or portrait).
Practice Makes Perfect
As with all kinds of processes, UX/UI benefits from trying things out. You can’t go wrong with seeing what works, what doesn’t, and learning from experience. Following the reliable cyclic method of prototyping, testing, analyzing results, and refining is the way to go. This approach will allow you to fine-tune the UX design for your app.
By following a few simple premises, you’ll be able to create exceptional experiences for your users. This is the ultimate objective: get your clients to interact seamlessly with the technology you are offering so they stick around for the long run. So always keep your end-user in mind to provide the outstanding UX that will make your app a success.