Mobile UX Design Usability
by Terrance Kirkwood

In a previous post, I shared some mobile UX best practices ranging from traditional UX design principles to other guidelines unique to mobile UX. If you ignore –  or worse, disregard – any of these best practices, usability issues can occur. A post on Appedus by Anjeli Singh describes 5 Most Overlooked Usability Issues in Mobile Apps.

“…product managers assume what their users want and take design decisions on their behalf, without prior user research or gaining user insights. When this happens, it becomes difficult to fix usability challenges since the product/service is already completed.””

source: Appedus
author: Anjeli Singh

Often, design teams find themselves pressed for time and resources, giving them a convenient excuse to skip user testing. But under no circumstances should design teams skip the all-important step of getting user feedback. Understanding how users engage with your product through iterative design and testing will help you avoid some of the classic usability issues: user onboarding, user help & support, and affordance.

Most app designers nowadays recognize the benefits of a robust onboarding experience for their users. But some designers overlook the importance of making that same onboarding experience easily available for later. User testing of mobile apps has revealed that many users skim the onboarding experience in haste, only to realize later that there’s no easy way to get back to that important information.

Help & Support
Providing the right help at the right time also contributes to the usability of your mobile app. Mobile apps today don’t always provide the same type of rich contextual help as their web counterparts. Leveraging user testing to identify which steps may require additional information or assistance during task completion will help you minimize some of your app’s usability issues.

Lastly, while PC and mobile UX share some common principles, one important difference is affordance. The interaction models for PC and mobile are completely different (mouse vs touch, respectively), so the affordance models are different as well. For example, the ability to use a mouse to hover and click on a PC presents affordances unavailable to a mobile device’s touch model. Conducting user testing will reveal any usability issues inadvertently included in your interaction designs.

Take the time to engage with your users before, during, and after the design process to eliminate common usability issues. Mobile UX design requires a constant feedback loop to ensure the design meets the needs of users, allows users to accomplish their goals, and does both in a delightful way.

In my next post I’ll share some ideas on how to collect user feedback in your mobile app.