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Mobile Design Best Practices

Mobile apps are trusted way to deliver content and services. But in a crowded market, how to make a mobile app useful, relevant, and valuable for users?

Here are 7 UX design tips that I think are key for creating really great mobile user experiences.

1. One Screen, One Task

Reduce the effort users have to put in to get what the want

Every screen you design for the app should support a single action of real value to the person using it. To make things easier for users, design every screen for one thing and one thing only. Prioritize one call-to-action per screen. It will reduce the time required to learn the app and simplify overall user interaction with a product.

Take Uber, for instance. Uber knows that the goal of the user who uses the app is to order a ride. App does not overwhelm the user with too much of information: it automatically detects users location based on GEO data and the only thing users have to do is to select a pickup location.

2. Invisible User Interface

Content becomes an interface

Put content in the spotlight by removing all unnecessary elements that do not support user tasks. Content should become the interface. Google Maps is a great example of this rule — during a redesign phase Google removed all the unnecessary panels and buttons and Google said that the map is the interface.

3. Breathing Space

Use negative space to draw attention to important content

White space or “negative space”, referring to the empty space between and around elements of a design or page layout, is often overlooked and neglected. Although many designers may consider it a waste of valuable screen estate, white space is an essential element in mobile design.

White space is to be regarded as an active element, not a passive background,” — Jan Tschichold

Follow “less is more” principle in your designs. Image credit: Material Design

4. Navigation Made Simple

Make navigation self-evident

Helping users navigate should be a high priority for every app. Mobile navigation must be discoverable, accessible, and take little screen space. However, making navigation accessible is a challenge on mobile due to the limitations of the small screen and the need of prioritizing the content over decorative elements.

Tab bars and navigation bars are well suited for apps with relatively few navigation options. They are great because they display all major navigation options and with one simple tap user can instantly go from one page to another.

Tab bar navigation in Apple AppStore

5. One Hand Operation

Adapt your design to the bigger screens

Mobile phones are getting bigger and bigger in size. The primary reason for that is to create devices with bigger screens.

Here are three basic ways of how people are holding their phones:

Basic ways of how people are holding their phones. Research by Steven Hoober

85% of observed users working with their phones using one hand. The following heat map shows sorts of the thumb zones applied to every iPhone display size since 2007. You can see that the bigger the display is, the less easily-accessible zone is.

Thumb zones. According to the observation by Scott Hurff

It’s necessary to adapt a design to improve the user experience. Ensure that your app can be easily used on a large screen with one hand. Place navigation options within the thumb’s reach.

Pocket app for iOSAll the navigation controls are in the footer. They can be easily reached in case you hold your phone normally. Image credit: Dmitry Kovalenko

6. Make App Appear Fast

Don’t make users wait for content

Try as much as possible to make the app fast and responsive. Do things in the background to make the all as fast as possible. A good example of this technique can be found in Instagram (uploading pictures on Instagram). As soon as the user chooses a picture to share, it starts uploading. The user is invited to select tags and as soon as they finish this step and tap Share the picture will be posted almost instantly.

Instagram invites the user to add tags as the picture uploads in the background.

7. Use Push Notifications Wisely

Think twice before sending a message

Everyday, users are bombarded with useless notifications that distract them from their activities. Annoying notifications is the #1 reason people uninstall mobile apps (71% of respondents).

Mobile is all about making every message count. Don’t send notifications “for the sake of better user engagement”. Send them if and only if you think they are valuable to the user.

Tips: Establish an effective mobile app messaging strategy by using different message types — push notifications, email, in-app notifications, and news feed messaging.

Select proper notification type based on urgency and content. Source: Appboy

Thank you!

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Originally published at babich.biz

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