While you envision what mobile technology can do for your company, there’s a good chance you’re pleasantly overwhelmed by the seemingly endless possibilities. But, don’t jump the gun. If you’re planning on building a new mobile app, you’ll want to make sure that you and your team have thoroughly tested the app’s usability before you unveil it to the world.
It can be said that many brands first jumping on the mobile bandwagon created an environment of useless, unusable and unreliable mobile websites and applications. That’s understandable considering there were no best practices to follow even a few years ago.
Thankfully today, there’s a lot of research to guide us on UX and usability strategy. Consider these 3 key elements of mobile UX design technology as you embark on your journey to become more mobile-minded:
1. User Experience Research
Creating the best experience for your mobile app users should be the driving force behind your strategy. You’ll want to perform initial user research, allowing you to fully understand your users and their behavior. Do you know how they’re already using their mobile devices? How savvy are they when it comes to using a mobile device? To get the answers you need, you’ll want to perform user interviews and contextual inquiries, which are semi-structured interview methods to obtain information about the context of use. Check out UX Matters for more information on contextual inquiries.
When you have a prototype ready, you’ll conduct mobile usability tests using all types of mobile devices and operating systems with real users. There are a variety of testing tools you can use, including: Objective Digital’s DIY Document Camera, UX recorders that record on-screen activity, and Mr. Tappy, a kit for filming a mobile device from a user’s perspective.
2. Information Architecture
The definition of Information Architecture includes these key tenants:
- the structural design of shared information environments;
- the art and science of organizing and labelling websites, intranets, online communities and software to support usability and findability;
- and an emerging community of practice focused on brining principles of design and architecture to the digital landscape.
So what does this mean for you? Well, it means that it’s hugely important for you to arrange the content of your mobile app in a logical way, making it easy for users to complete tasks and accomplish their goals.
- The landing page should contain links to the primary features and content, acting as your navigation. Prioritize the navigation based on the user’s needs.
- Use wireframes to lay out your app’s pages and content, and pay attention to how they work together.
- Address the navigation needs of both touchscreen and non-touchscreen users. Make sure the tap size of the navigation item is at least 30 pixels wide or tall. Provide keypad shortcuts for feature phones, so that users can enter, say, a number (0 to 9) to quickly access a link.
3. Design Strategy
When creating your mobile app, don’t just shrink down a program’s desktop design. Consider your users, and customize a design that allows for quick scanning. Provide your developers with a guide that includes information about color schemes, font, image styles and logo usage. In short, your app should have a personality.
When it comes to your app’s layout, a single-column structure generally works best. This not only helps with the limited space you have to work with but is also easily scalable for different devices and transitions between portrait and landscape mode.
Throughout the design process, create mock-ups that will allow you to conduct user experience research. As with any project, you’ll want to test your app on as many devices and operating systems as possible. Even with HTML5 or Salesforce1 Lightning mobile-enabled Web apps, the interface may vary slightly across devices and systems. Consider the iPhone alone has several different versions of its operating system so testing on each is vital.
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