A well implemented UX design and applied best practices are the linchpin of all successful mobile applications. There are plenty of mobile designs and applications are available in the market, but very few are following the design guidelines. There are sundry other categories of design principles suggested by the community, however, I can introduce you some of the common patterns we should follow.
Why mobile and Hybrid designs are important these days
Users are slowly migrating to the mobile applications from the web/desktop applications to perform their daily tasks, banking, visiting social network etc. Moreover, Digital Trends reported in 2017 that, over 5 billion people across the world are using mobile phones and more than 79% of online purchases are made using mobile phones as per statistics.
These trends raise challenges to the UX designers since the design considerations have a huge deviation from the traditional patterns, Although, at the same time gives opportunities to build a successful application by following the design principles and increase the usability.
There are many things we must take care during the designing phase of a mobile application. I will summarize a few of them which are common to every scenario.
Best practices for Mobile UX designs
Both Google and Apple offer guidelines on the best practices of UX design for their developers to follow. In addition to that, I will highlight some key points in following lines.
Keeping the user interface elements to a minimum will help the user to avoid a cluttered UI. Provide only the elements which are necessary to the present context. Giving too much content or options will increase the cognitive load which they may feel annoying.
Know your User
Researching on the user requirements is the best way to decide what would be the adequate design solution you can provide.
A positive user experience is a result of understanding the user.
A useful methods are listed in Adobe’s comprehensive guide to UX research methods
It may be frustrating to the users when the application is summarizing all the validation and let the user do the correction after submitting the page. It would be recommended to dynamically validate the fields whenever possible and let the user know the result immediately after leaving the fields.
Dynamically Arrange the Keyboard
Customize the keyboard for the type of query. Demonstrate a numeric keyboard when asking for a phone number, and incorporate the @ button when requesting for an email address. Assure that this feature is implemented consistently throughout the app, rather than only for specific forms.
Accessibility is one of the key aspects all user experience particularly mobile user experience designers must take care of. As per records, 15% of the world's population experiences some form of disability. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines are a good reference for following the guidelines.
No colors should be used for conveying information and displaying a validation. discriminating an element using colors will impose a great struggle on the users who have color blindness. Instead of colors, you can use other visual indicators to communicate with the user.
(image from smashingmagazine.com)
It is better to design the navigation using system navigation rather than designing a custom one that is not familiar to the users. Following the patterns such as the tab bar (for iOS) and the navigation drawer (for Android) would be an adequate choice at design.
(Image from Material Design)
Furthermore, indicating the current location while navigating will make the user comfortable rather lost the track when you have more navigation menus.
Be More Cautions With Selecting Loading Indicator
Lazy loading the contents will ensure the users does not need to wait for a screen to appear, moreover, it will keep the user interactive. This kind of screen will merely convey a feeling of something is happening in the background rather than a traditional feeling of watching a long-lasting loading screen.
(image from smashingmagazine.com)
Designing a friendly buttons
Designing a finger-friendly buttons or navigation elements are crucial in mobile application development. A great application with a dismal design of finger-friendly buttons will disappoint user performance as well as will be frustrating. This will enforce the user to precise in their movement to accomplish a task. A study by the Touch Lab by MIT found that the average adult has an index finger size of about 16 – 20 mm – which converts to 45 – 57 pixels.
(Image from justinmind.com)
Designing applications for the smaller screen will be challenging without following general guidelines and less aware of the user needs. Understanding the user and following the best practices will help to design a great user experience. I hope the basic knowledge shared will help you to either build a foundation or can move to the next level.