81% of Americans own a smartphone, and interactions between consumers and brands through mobile devices is increasing every year. Thus, any brand, app, or website should have a strong mobile interface to ensure a consistent and positive mobile user experience across real-world and digital touchpoints. To stay competitive in today’s market, companies are investing heavily into the design of their mobile real estate to develop optimal experiences for their target audiences.
70% of web searches happen on mobile devices. With consumers ingesting an immense amount of data and content on a daily basis, companies need to know how to not only grab their attention but instill enough trust to entice the use of their product over competitors. Day in and day out, people are being inundated with so much information that they can’t possibly start to make sense of– much less make use of it. Due to this extreme inundation, more and more users are simply ignoring most content channels – automatically deeming them as irrelevant.
This is problematic for businesses as they must pivot away from traditional desktop experiences to entice users to engage with their brands in a meaningful way. Mobile devices have a higher interaction rate than desktop. Users are more likely to click and engage with content from their phones – albeit more quickly. Businesses have mere milliseconds to capture the attention and trust of users so they need to ensure a positive overall experience from the first click. If a user has a negative experience in the first few moments they are far less likely to view content and funnel through the path that a business intends. This is why optimizing mobile experiences is so important to brands and businesses.
Design for Disruptions
So how do companies ensure a positive mobile user experience?
Strive to understand your users.
No matter the user, all mobile-first designers know that disruptions are everywhere–and they can kill an experience. Designing for disruptions is key to user experience design. Designers must account for disruption and infuse flow by designing experiences with tasks that can be paused and resumed within reasonability.
Content, Strategy, & Research
With mobile’s small screen real estate, mobile devices hold far less content than desktops, so designers have to think strategically about interactions. Higher interaction rates make mobile-first design not only necessary but essential. Feasibly, users should be able to do just about anything possible that fits on the screen; however, designers must ensure mobile apps and websites are fully functional and easy to use. Poor functionality– like small target areas, poor haptic feedback, and slow page loads–repel users.
Smaller screen sizes require more effort from working memory, which is often what designers strive to reduce. Designers intend to make experiences intuitive, minimizing the load on working memory. Often, designs are engineered to enable users to recognize rather than recall. This can often be seen as a drop-down versus a blank input field. The drop-down requires far less effort, but it does require more space and more work for developers to implement. With working memory having to recall and input information, the user has less attention to allot toward achieving success in the task and is more prone to miss notifications and details.
When it comes to data, users are more concerned about sharing it, so make sure you are capturing needed data, not wanted data. The onus is on designers to craft solid workflows and capture necessary data in a user-friendly way. By simplifying what users have to give, designers are actually enticing users to keep with the task until its complete. Simplified forms lessen the chance for disruption due to the quickness and ease of filling out these digitized forms.
Designers must be wary of asking for data twice in one user flow. Users want to trust the apps and websites that they interact with. For example, many companies have stepped forms that may have some answers that open up an appointment scheduling form instead of proceeding forward in the initial form. From their mobile, users should be able to easily pivot to the new user journey without having to re-enter any information that they gave in the prior stepped form.
One Screen at a Time
When it comes to mobile-first design, a well-designed UI can offer affordances to achieve seamless experiences. In order to do this, companies must invest in mobile research studies to understand how their target users interact with their mobile experiences. However, there are some tried and true practices when it comes to crafting a solid mobile-first foundation:
- Don’t overcrowd the screen
- Test, iterate, & re-test
- Increase single screen efficiency through simplified content
- Users like familiarity
From mobile testing, designers will gain insight into the many ways users may go about achieving a goal. With those notes, designers can utilize these newfound mental models to optimize the mobile experience. Iterative optimization of mobile designs relies heavily on testing for success and understanding all the ways users may go about achieving a goal– and in some cases building those routes or providing clues to help them discover the user flow. As designers test and iterate, they will find out how to optimize the mobile experience for their users through simplified content. By focusing on users, designers grant users more perceived control and familiarity.
In this world, mobile is an extension of the self. Most people are going to default to mobiles for exploring and engaging with products, services, and content. Companies are pouring money into optimizing mobile user experience because it is the primary device for most users. To ignore mobile design is a forfeiture of success for most businesses.