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
Not only is white space responsible for readability and content prioritization, it also plays an important role in the visual layout. Thus, it can simplify UI and improve UX.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.