9 Best Practices to Try Out for Your Mobile App UX
January 24 2020
Did you know that 75% of the usersopen an app once and never come back? That is the sad truth!
Think about yourself. Have you ever stayed with an app that has some huge issues? There are tons of apps on the market, a lot of opportunities to find “a better” app if the first try doesn’t satisfy you instantly. That’s why besides developing a great functionality for your mobile app you should also pay attention to its user experience (UX). And to know ore you should check out our website.
User Experience doesn’t only mean that an app looks good and has nice colors. It includes everything which has to do with experiencing an app or interacting with an app. It includes good experiences as well as the unsatisfying ones. All the emotions and attitudes toward using a particular product or in this case a particular app.
People use mobile phones not in the same way as they do with the desktop. They have different needs, requirements and desires. Thus, the optimization of a mobile app must be seen as a separate area than the one of a desktop application. Here are 9 best practices that will help you improve the UX of your mobile app.
1. Content: as much as necessary but as little as possible
We should optimize content for both desktop applications and mobile applications. Yet, content in apps and on mobile websites requires special attention. Where there is enough space on the computer to provide as much content as you want, the smartphone display only provides a few inches to do so. It is, therefore, a bad idea to display the entire content of the website in a smaller size. A page that can be scrolledendlessly will not inspire your customers.
Tip:Prioritize and clean up! Important information should be visible directly. Extra information can also be “hidden” on a second page.
2. Navigation: Structured and self-explanatory
The navigation item is closely related to the content of the app. Of course, it is not much more effective to hide all contents in nested and unclear page constructs. The user won’t search tons of pages. He probably won’t even look into more than one or two pages. Make it clear where he can find which content. The greatest content in the world is worth nothing if users cannot find it.
Do not hide the most important content
Stay consistent in the navigation’s design
Communicate where the user is currently located
Standardized navigation patterns are not boring but self-explanatory
3. Standardised patterns of use
In contrast to computers, smartphones allow several great new operating possibilities. From voice control to gesture control, you can let off steam as an app developer. But this is not always helpful. On the contrary, the operation of the app is often worsened by this. In the worst case, it will result in the users’ frustration patterns and they will leave the app immediately.
There are many usage patterns, such as dragging a page down to refresh it or swiping to change the page. The users will always try these first if he does not know your app yet. There is nothing wrong with using unexpected navigation or usage patterns. But make sure to communicate this with your users.
Tip: It is unnecessary to use smart solutions if simple one’s work and satisfy the users.
4. Seamless design
Mobile apps, websites and other tools of one product cannot be viewed separately. If you provide your content for more than one device, all the pages and apps should look like “all of a piece”.
Spotify enables its users to enjoy a seamless experience between different devices. Not only branding and usability are the same. Spotify also remembers where the user has stopped. It’s not a problem to start a song on the smartphone and stop or change it on the desktop. The user can switch devices and pick up where he left off.
Tip: The transition between an app and a website should be invisible.
5. Finger-friendly design
With a computer, you use the mouse for clicking on elements. It is not a big problem when they are small. But if buttons on smartphone screens are too small, it can be difficult to select them with your finger. If there is no way to change the size of the clickable elements, this can be very frustrating.
As a rule of thumb: clickable elements should be 7-10 mm in size to be selectedaccurately. Also, elements that are too close together can create difficulties. Especially since it is not easy to see where you are clicking with your finger.
Tip: Not only the size of the elements plays a role but also their arrangement can influence the simplicity of use.
6. Think about the thumb zone
Many users use their smartphones with only one hand. This means that they want to reach all important elements with one thumb. The area that the user can reach without stretching his fingers is called a natural thumb zone. Elements outside of this natural thumb zone are difficult to reach and make operation uncomfortable. Elements that are placed in the corners of the screen are nearly not reachable with only one thumb.
The Natural Thumb Zone should, therefore, contain all important elements such as CTAs. Potentially dangerous elements like “Delete” or “Change” can be placed in less accessible areas. This makes users less likely to use them.
Tip: The larger the displays of mobile devices, the larger the “hard to reach” or “out of reach” area.
7. Don’t always be up-to-date
In a world where information and events are so dynamic, it’s hard to imagine an app that is not getting updated constantly. Who would want to look at outdated content? Nobody!
But that’s not the case. To make the user experience pleasant and as uninterrupted as possible, it is not a good idea to update your content every single second. Imagine you’re reading a news article and suddenly your app is updating. The article has changed or even worse, it’s now somewhere else and you have to look for it again. That’s more than up-to-date, but has little to do with usability.
Twitter and Facebook are good examples. As long as the user has the app open, the posts are not automatically and constantly updated. Only the status “x new posts” is displayed. This helps the user not to lose his current position. Only when the user updates the app (e.g. scrolls up in the Facebook app) or leaves the app, it updates itself.
Tip: Do not tear the user out of his current session.
Imagine that you are on the first day of your new job, and nobody tells you what to do. Not so nice, eh?! It’s the same with onboarding. If you don’t explain to your user what he can do with your app and how it works, he might get stuck. Implementing onboarding can increase the user retention rate by up to 50%.
For onboarding in general, there are three different approaches:
1. Benefit-oriented onboarding. Explains what kind of problem your app solves and which benefits the user gets. It doesn’t explain concrete functionalities.
2. Function-oriented onboarding. Highlights functionalities and explains how they work and when to use them. It’s a great choice when your app includes complex features.
3. Progressive onboarding. It’s like a guided tour through the app. Shows the most important functionalities and how they work.
One thing you should never do during onboarding: promise more than you can deliver. Onboarding is not only about showing what benefits and functionalities your user can get. It also helps to find out if the user has made the right decision with your app.
Evernote shows how a combination of these three onboarding strategies can look like. In the first step, benefits and functions are shown and explained. Then a short tour through the most important functions is given (Progressive Onboarding). Even if the onboarding process is comparatively long, the user is then fit to use the app.
Tip: Onboarding is the first point of contact between you and the user. Show yourself from your best side, but promise nothing you can’t keep.
9. Test, Analyse and Improve
The best tips and tricks do not generate success unless you analyze and check if they make a positive effect. Every user group is different and has its own wishes and needs and thus reacts differently to changes. With methods like Session Replay, Touch Heatmaps and Conversion Funnels you can find out what best practices are the most effective for your app and where your users still have problems or show frustration patterns. There are many tools available on the market for this purpose. Most of them are very easy to implement and use. You can find a list of the best tools for 2020in this article.
Tip: The better you know your users, the better you can respond to their wishes and the more positive the results will be.
Annemarie is a content creator for Bluespace, a blog by UXCam. She writes about mobile user experience and mobile analytics. UXCam is an innovative mobile app analytics solution to understand users and deliver the perfect app experience. Follow UXCam on Twitter: @uxcam