4 Mobile App UX Best Practices

Mobile apps have come a long way over the past 10-12 years. We’ve gone from apps being a novelty – where smartphone users were just amazed by the simple fact that they could access such functions from a tiny device in their pockets – to a normal way of life. Over that time, technology and innovation have advanced. And so have the expectations of users.

In order to develop a compelling and successful mobile app in today’s overcrowded app stores, you have to look beyond features and functionality. You must also account for the overall user experience (UX) by designing a user interface (UI) that keeps people coming back for more.

What Does ‘Good UX’ Mean?

Good UX doesn’t always play out in the same way with every mobile app. The underlying objectives, however, remain identical regardless of the execution.

At its core, good UX is about creating a frictionless experience that’s intuitive, logical, and pleasing to the user. To put it another way, it does what the user thinks it should do. There’s no fiddling around or trying to figure out how to do something. Everything happens naturally without any fuss. That’s the heartbeat of good mobile app UX.

4 Mobile App UX Tips

While it’s easy to recognize good UX when you see it, it’s much more challenging to execute. With that being said, there are some simple principles that make it much easier. You can either hire a custom app developer to streamline these suggestions or tackle them yourself. But whichever option you choose, be sure to pay attention to the details.

1. Prioritize On-Screen Reachability

The biggest mistake rookie developers make is assuming they can just shrink everything that would normally be on a desktop application and call it a mobile app. It doesn’t work this way. You have to account for the way people hold their phones and design the app so that all main actions can be comfortably performed from each of these orientations.

There are three common ways people hold their phones: left hand, right hand, or combined. The goal is to prioritize on-screen reachability by making all main functions easy to tap with a thumb. If you’re ever unsure of what’s easy and what’s not, just pick up your phone and try it yourself.

The good news is that 80 to 90 percent of a smartphone screen is reachable by the average user (regardless of how they hold their phone). The “no zones” are typically the top 10 percent of the screen and the bottom left-hand and right-hand corners.

2. Prevent Fat Finger Syndrome

In addition to the placement of functions, you also have to consider how easy it is to click various buttons and/or manipulate different features. If you aren’t careful, you could inadvertently trigger fat finger syndrome (where users accidentally trigger a secondary action when navigating a touchscreen interface).

The best way to avoid fat finger syndrome is to keep touch targets large and to ensure adequate spacing and padding between buttons. The thumb remains the most popular input method for users. (And the average thumb width is 72px.)

3. Use UI Feedback

The best mobile apps provide UI feedback to keep the user informed as they interact with it. The use of haptics, sound, and visualizations to let a user know what’s happening inside of the app is not just a good idea – it’s actually become a best practice.

4. Account for Readability

The importance of readability can’t be understated. While mobile devices are getting larger, they’re still significantly smaller than tablets, laptops, and desktop computers. If you’re accustomed to designing for larger screen sizes, you’ll need to be very intentional about how you address readability with mobile app development.

The main components of readability are text size and color. Colors should be balanced using the 60-30-10 rule. This means 60 percent of the palette should be one color (typically a neutral), 30 percent of the palette should complement the primary color, and the final 10 percent serves as an accent.

Set Your App Up for Success

There are a number of ingredients required for a successful mobile application. But if you’re serious about creating something engaging, you have to prioritize user experience. The tips outlined above are merely a starting point. As technology and user expectations evolve, you’ll have to iterate to meet them.