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10 Mobile User Experience Best Practices

Amit Ashwini
December 11, 2017

With every aspect of business going digital today, business owners and entrepreneurs must focus on reaching out to more customers through this medium. While several professionals have focused on creating websites, some have overlooked the value of increased smartphone usage.

Mobile Users Rise Dramatically Globally

New figures from eMarketer predict worldwide smartphone users to surpass a whopping 2 billion in 2016. The lure of billions of mobile users is enough for most businesses to consider adopting this medium unequivocally. But engaging interest of users is a huge challenge faced by marketers today.

The default strategy used by most designers when creating an interface for mobile is to simply scale down desktop websites to make it responsive. This has been and will continue to be a poor strategy. You cannot simply scale down a website for mobile. Your goal should be to examine your user's needs and establish ways to make your business friendly through the mobile medium. It isn't just enough to get them to visit your app or web page. You must convert them into meaningful sales or call to actions using interactive mobile interfaces.

Following Best Practices For An Interactive Mobile User Experience

In the interest of creating a more interactive and user-friendly experience via mobile, you should ideally consider certain factors when it comes to mobile design. This guide is designed to help you in your quest to follow best practices for creating an interactive mobile user experience.

1. Make Sure Your Content Is Clear And Focused

Keep in mind that most people use mobiles in a rushed state when they're on the go. This doesn't allow for easy navigation. When you're designing a mobile experience, think minimal. Avoid clutter and make sure that every page – including your home page – has a specific focus or call to action. Make movement between pages easy for users. For instance, allow for swiping to the next page with a small directional arrow. The idea here is to make it as easy as possible to help your customers find what they are looking for. Mobile users appreciate a smooth experience and are more likely to come back to your website more than once.

2. Start With Simple Goals

Many designers start with grand development goals from the start. Many of them cost time and money, which may be worthwhile over time – but not in the beginning. When starting a mobile app, your aim should be to create a minimum viable product (MVP) as quickly as you can, without compromising on quality. Assess whether you need to begin with front-end-framework or whether static interfaces work for the moment. The best thing for you to do when you go mobile is to start with a simple interface before you acquire customers. This will help you optimize your return on investment more productively.

3. Stay Away From Multiple Layers

Traditional websites have prominent menu bars on the top, but this can eat into precious mobile space. To prevent this from happening, you should ideally create a drop-down menu on the left or right of the screen. Similarly, multi-level and sub-menus may work well for websites, but they will be inaccessible and difficult-to-navigate on a mobile device. If your users have to go through multiple layers to find something on your website, chances are they will leave within the first few attempts. To keep users engaged, stay away from multiple layers and focus on the key message by keeping it minimal.

4. Create An Interface For Touch Screens

Keep in mind that the interaction mode on most mobile devices is touch screens. Designing for a touch screen requires careful thought, which is different from traditional websites. For desktops, you have to design for a precise cursor. For mobile, you need to consider differently shaped fingers applying different kinds of pressure to the screen. You will need to ensure that buttons requiring touch input are large enough to prevent overlaps with adjoining buttons. Some mobile devices don't fully support JavaScript touch. When designing for mobile, make sure you create an interface that resonates best with touch screens for optimum user-friendliness.

5. Lose Heavy And Special Effects Images

Speed and size are two vital performance yardsticks for mobile sites and apps. Avoid using heavy images to attain elaborate effects like shadows and gradients because this will simply slow down the mobile user experience. Using fewer special effects will help create a better mobile experience because it will not slow down speed. Drop any additional images to keep page load times as low as possible.

6. Use Mobile Specific Features To Positively Influence Your Website

Mobile devices have specific features like Gyrometers, GPS and other sensors that desktop devices don't have. For instance, the opportunities to make phone calls or sliding to unlock sensors aren't available on desktops. Find ways to use these mobile-specific features to make your website's mobile experience better. For instance, you can add features like 'Tap to Call' on the contact page or you could use GPS to help users find your store through their mobile devices. Think of ways where you can leverage mobile functionality for more enriching user experiences.

7. Create Versatile Designs

Mobile devices aren't always the same size and shape, so you need to account for different dimensions when designing a website or app for mobiles. While tempting, you cannot just design for the average 320-pixel wide screen. You have to account for all types of screen widths – 176, 320, 240 and 360. For this reason, it's vital to keep your layout fluid and versatile to ensure that it displays correctly on diverse screen sizes. You certainly don't want your website or app to work on limited devices, while looking strange on others because this can hamper your business productivity and profitability over time.

8. Know That Mobile Interfaces Don't Need To Solve Every Problem

It's tempting to create features that can potentially solve the world's problems through your mobile interface. But resist this desire to communicate every interaction with a user interface (UI). Keep in mind that you're attempting to shape human behavior with this interface, so every step doesn't need to be directed by the UI. In fact, it's best to leave enough room for human interaction and give users easy choices about how they want to interpret the information shared.

9. Include Only Essential Elements On Every Page

Being minimal is key to creating a valuable mobile user experience. Whether your users are on phones or tablets, keep in mind that screen sizes are much smaller than desktops, so you're better off eliminating any unimportant elements in your final mobile design for the best possible mobile user experience. You should ideally reduce the number of page elements, whether it is site copy, an image, a tracking token, CSS or JavaScript. Condensing, combining or eliminating elements altogether is important when you're working on mobile interfaces.

10. Don't Let Disruptions Compromise User Experience

One of the biggest challenges when designing for mobile is the inevitable situation when your users are on the go and multi-tasking. Your app or website needs to be clean and simple, allowing users to disengage and re-engage on the same page as what they were doing before they were interrupted. Your goal should be to make it simple for them to pick up exactly where they ended – before getting into a call or a meeting. If they cannot pick up where they left off with yours, chances are they will go to another site later. Break down large tasks into small ones to avoid burdening your users.

Designing user-friendly pages for mobiles requires careful thought because so many different elements go into the planning stage. To reach out to a larger number of people and grow your business, your website or app needs to work seamlessly when opened from multiple devices, so make an effort to plan a robust mobile web strategy with your developer.

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Amit Ashwini