What is Mobile User Experience (UX) Design?

4 min read
UX collage

Mobile UX design is the design created for hand-held and wearable devices. It considers how the device is used and its unique specifications to create the optimum user experience. Designers prioritize the user’s particular needs and devise solutions that meet these needs, resulting in an easy-to-use interface that works for those using devices on the move. The best UX designs focus on accessibility, efficiency, and discoverability, making interactive experiences the best possible. 

In 2019 Pew Research claimed that more than 5 billion people have mobile devices, while CNBC predicts that nearly 75% of the global population will use just their smartphones to access the internet by 2025. According to Google, a massive 61% of users are unlikely to revisit a mobile site they had difficulty accessing. This means that it is more important than ever for businesses to develop excellent user experiences when customers access their websites via mobile devices. 

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Such a growing dependence on mobile devices to browse for information, entertainment, and products has increased pressure on UX designers to deliver creative, efficient, and ultimately positive experiences. The variety of devices has expanded significantly, and designs have to work not just on mobile phones and laptops but also tablets, phablets, smartwatches, and wearable tech. 

Mobile UX Design

Designing for mobile means combining specific design features with in-depth user research. Typically, most UX designs include standard UX considerations and specifics that depend on the device in mind and the intended user. They will have to consider the context. Are users likely to be on the move and short of time? How will the design demand attention, guide the user through the customer journey, reduce distractions, and provide clarity? 

Users have different priorities and demands when utilizing a mobile device. They may have a particular goal in mind. They may be bored and browsing. They may be trying to access information about what is going on around them. Understanding the user and predicting what state of mind they will be in when they open an application or interact with their device will provide UX designers with useful insights to inspire a smart design that meets customers’ needs. 

Mobile UX Design

Size matters

Screen space on mobile is always going to be an essential consideration. One crucial decision is whether to opt for responsive or adaptive design. Responsive design adapts according to the screen size, platform, and orientation. Adaptive design is where multiple versions of the same web page are created to fit different screen sizes. 

A general rule is to always design for the smallest mobile devices as a starting point and work up from there. Grouping device types into similar sized screens will help keep the number of different designs required to a minimum. From here, designers can begin to create content and visual rules for each grouping to make the display on each screen size optimum for the user. 

Trying to support as many different browser types as possible will ensure that the design works for the biggest cohort of people. Paying attention to web standards (W3) will ensure designers produce high-quality designs that work for a broad spectrum of web users. 

Simple navigation, minimal content

Mobile devices require simple navigation with the most critical information at the top of the page. It is advisable to keep levels of navigation to a minimum and ensure labeling is clear and concise. Consider providing short-key access to the most popular features. Touch screen tap points must be suitably large and prominent for users to notice and tap on them easily. Apple’s iPhone Human Interface Guidelines suggest a size of no smaller than 44 pixels wide and 44 pixels tall. Designers should also ensure good visibility of links, so there is no confusion or repetitive action. Users should also be permitted to swap from the mobile to the desktop version of a site with ease. 

As a rule, it is better to keep content to a minimum when designing for mobile devices. The limited space means large chunks of text could overwhelm users. On the other hand, simple, clear, and relevant content tailored for mobile devices will be well received. Content should also work across all devices, and if this isn’t possible, it’s best not to include it at all. 

Simple navigation

Because most mobile users are on the move, they will appreciate the ultimate simplicity of your website’s interface. Users will enjoy their experience far more if they don’t have to continually take another action to get where they want. Keep URLs short, allow permanent sign-ins, reduce scrolling, and make sure forms ask for the least possible amount of data. 

It’s worth remembering that mobile connections can be unstable. Having to input information a second time if the signal is lost will be frustrating, and ultimately off-putting, for many. Reducing image size and the overall number of images will keep page load times short. Minimizing the page size will also help ensure page load speeds are faster. 

Continuity is key

Your users will expect the transition between your mobile and desktop sites to be seamless, and their experience on each to be much the same. Therefore, it is essential to maintain continuity and ensure that the overall look and feel is representative of the brand. 

While browsing on a mobile device is undoubtedly different from the desktop experience, the quality of the user experience must be maintained throughout. By being attentive to usability and design opportunities and following mobile usability best practices, UX designers can ensure they deliver the most enjoyable user experiences to their customers, and remain competitive.