In today’s highly competitive mobile ecosystem, creating a successful app requires a deep understanding of UX design. Consumers are becoming more and more impatient - one negative experience is often reason enough to move on to another app.

That’s why User Experience represents the single most important competitive differentiator for companies that want to succeed in the mobile-first world.

What’s scary about the prospect of creating meaningful user experiences is the fact that there are dozens of little things that need to fall into place. So, even if you apply UX design best practices, the most satisfying app UX will also require a touch of alchemy.

The good thing about all this is that you can (and should) optimize your app’s UX over time - there’s little chance you’ll strike gold on the first try!

Now, let’s look at some tips that will help guide your design process towards a better mobile experience.

Go for familiarity

People naturally prefer things they’re familiar with and this is also true for digital products and experiences. We tend to associate unfamiliar or new experiences with risk and this is NOT the feeling you want to evoke when users interact with your product!

On the other hand, if you keep things too familiar, there’s a risk that users will perceive your product as stale. So it’s all about the balance between familiarity and innovation.

People will find a reason to complain, you just need to do all it takes to minimize frustration.

For example:

When a user opens your app, make them feel like they already intuitively know what to do next i.e. where to click, what actions to take, etc. If the users don’t feel stuck when using your app for the first time, that’s a huge win!

And this brings us to the next tip…

Enable smooth onboarding

We all know the power of first impressions. There’s no do-over if the first contact that users have with your app is confusing or in any way unsatisfactory.

It’s incredible how most app makers spend so little time and effort on the customer’s onboarding experience. You need to set the stage (and expectations) for your product and help users make the best use of your app.

What works best for the onboarding process will depend on the complexity of your product. The general rule is to make onboarding as simple as possible, guiding your users (e.g. with walk-through screens), educating them on how to use the product, and highlighting its value.

Address user’s goals

Understanding the goals of your users and then using that knowledge to make design decisions is essential for creating a great user experience.

Its all about figuring out which information users need in order to perform their tasks and how they want to feel as they go through them. You need to match the visual information in your app to the users’ goal, which isn’t an easy task.

You may have more than one user group, and those different user groups will have individual perceptions and needs that you need to consider when designing your app’s UX.

Keep things simple

Simplicity is king in the world of mobile app UX. The less cognitive load you put on your users, the better user experience you’ll create. The key here is to focus on two things: clarity and consistency.

You need to make key functions of your app crystal clear for the users from the first screen and you can’t achieve this if you clutter up your interface. Eliminate any design element that isn’t absolutely necessary and focus on one main action per screen.

Remember, users’ goal when interacting with your app is to complete a certain task. Help them by making interaction with the app interface effortless!

Make navigation obvious

Good navigation ensures that users can easily get to (and use!) the most important features of your app. Complicated navigation leads to friction and is one of the reasons why people abandon/uninstall mobile apps.

If your users experience navigational issues while using your app, there’s something wrong with its structure…

So, make sure that you design well-structured, intuitive navigation that allows users to move seamlessly through your app, saving their time and keeping them happy.

Design for interruption

When designing for mobile, you simply have to factor in interruption. There are so many distractions that can draw the user’s attention away from the mobile screen.

Interruptions can be caused by anything from incoming phone calls during app usage to a number of external factors e.g. they were using your app while waiting for a bus…

So it’s important to design your app for ‘on-the-go’ usage and make it easy for users to re-engage with the app when they return to it.

Test with users

The only way to know if you’ve created a good UX is to test your app early and often with real users and then make necessary changes.

There are many testing methods you can choose from, but usability testing has become a design industry standard and for good reason. It helps you discover issues very early in the design process, which saves a lot of development costs down the road.

If you’re serious about understanding how users interact with your app so you can help them achieve their goals, then you simply can’t avoid usability testing.

And in case you don’t have the time or resources to run in-person tests, you can always use a usability testing tool to test your app with remote users and analyze the results.

Takeaways

If you want to avoid costly mobile app UX issues it’s important to build a rich experience and provide constant value that will make users return to your app.

The tips we discussed in this post will certainly help - it’s all about understanding the specific needs and goals of your users, translating them into design, and then applying UX best practices.