Smartphones have literally turned the tables upside down by ushering in a totally unprecedented transition in how mobile users use their phones. The following facts underline the statement.
Best Practices for Mobile User Experience and Design
With such a high degree of proliferation, the implications are enormous for marketers, since smartphones have sort of become the shopping channel for their users. The deep penetration of Internet coupled with the abilities of smartphones has forced marketers to come up with strategies or action plans that can give them the edge in the rate race of winning customers for their brands. Having discovered the traditional marketing strategies to be relatively ineffective in this scenario, the trump card is user experience; in this context – mobile user experience.
Why Mobile User Experience Matters?
Smartphones have occupied a special place in the lives of one and all today. For many users they are more than a mere gadget, mainly because it communicates with them. Smartphones interact with users the way they expect and connect with them at various levels such as personal, social, professional etc. How is this made possible? This is made possible by creating an experience environment around users and devices based on the users’ behavior.
The increased work pressure and solitary lifestyle have led many to depend on smartphones for emotional support since they have access to them anytime. Studies reveal that the bond between smartphones and their users is so strong that many consider them as having life and a personality which users often relate to as their own. Users never tend to experience a monotonous or a dull moment with their smartphones as they expect new and more personalized service from it. Building on this many advertisement campaigns focus on the liberty and freedom that users look forward to experience with their smartphones.
The users’ behavior surrounding their smartphones permeates into their purchase decisions too. They exhibit the same feeling towards services and apps on the smartphones that give them the desired value. Users give more preference to those apps or services that are in line with the brand’s claims or the image it intends to project. Apps or service that are unpopular with users, acts as a blotch on the brand’s image. In other words, the app that doesn’t provide a good user experience is actually hurting the brand no matter what.
How Have We Fared So Far?
Where Did We Err?
Technically speaking, it’s a very thin line between dos and don’ts in mobile user experience design. As this is an area which is still in an evolving phase, a lot more research is required to define standards.
Mobile-friendly sites face more challenges compared to the other sites. Mobiles sites need to be working as intended on various platforms and devices. Assuming they would work without being tested is sheerly stupid. Even a slight error can be very irritating for users.
Non-conformity to Standards
One of the most serious problems faced with app or mobile design is the utter failure in conforming to design standards. Users with experience in desktop web environment can surely find it difficult to adjust in a mobile web environment if critical design norms are skipped. These users would be expecting usability features to be similar in both desktop and mobile. And when they given the contrary, it results in bad experience.
A smartphone can be nothing less than being mobile – that’s what it is meant for. When apps and websites are designed without having this aspect in mind, one more dissatisfied user is added to the total. There can be no excuse for the app or site unable to perform in a dynamic environment. Well, it’s understandable if it’s reasonable but whatsoever, make sure the user retains the word ‘wow’.
Developers are hell-bent on developing apps and mobile sites that do what’s being told but miss on what the user requires. Of course, developers are logic-driven people but then if users don’t find a good reason to stick with the app or site, then the whole point is lost. There needs to be a renewed focus on what mobile users want.
Hitting the Right Note
No specific formula dictates the right combination of steps or procedures that can bring about the desired user experience. But the experience gained so far has come in handy.
First and foremost, determining the target. Determine if the target users need information quickly and/or specifically. If so, cut short the layers or processes that’ll help them achieve their goal. Determine if the target users are looking for any specifics. If so, serve the information at the pace they require it. In both the above formats the user experience is positive, increasing the probability of retaining users.
Keeping the app simple can help you gain patrons much easily. Simple shouldn’t come at the cost of advanced features but should be compelling enough for users to reuse the app. Simpler apps have a huge impact on user experience.
Knowing the Platform
Apps that don’t appear or function similar to native can prove disastrous for developers. Users who’re accustomed to native apps would definitely show resistance to third-party apps if they don’t emulate the features or looks of native apps. Acquiring an in-depth understanding of the platform in order to develop apps that engage users the way native apps do is imperative.
Room for Improvement
If user designs were perfect, there wouldn’t be any leg room for apps other than the native. Web apps survive if they are better than native apps in more than one way. Don’t disregard any design ideas during the development process because the web and mobile undergo changes at insane rates and at one point or the other the discarded design can become useful. Let the mobile site and app be subjected to reviews, ratings, feedback etc so as to keep them attuned to the changes in technology and user preferences.
Where are We Heading?
There’s nothing called the “best” mobile user experience, instead the apt word be would be “appropriate”. No user design is comprehensive because user needs to evolve over time and their behavior pattern is fairly unpredictable. Mobile UX designers/developers enroute to creating the appropriate mobile user experience have to take into consideration the behaviors, capabilities, cross platform users, constraints and diverse user needs – all in essence a fine balance.
It seems the day is not far off when man’s best friend will no longer be a dog, but a smartphone with the “appropriate” user experience. Have your say by leaving a comment below.Sahil Anand is a tech writer, who currently writes for PixelCrayons.com – a mobile development company that is backed by full-time mobile usability experts, Android developers and iPhone developers . Though he enjoys writing and will be found doing that most times, Sahil loves to spend even the minuscule of his free time with his family.