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Friday, 8 May 2015

Five principles of good UX design for mobile

1) Always start with the customer journey 

Whether you are designing an app for an online grocery purchase, cab booking or indoor navigation, there is a customer journey or process that he goes through. UX design for mobile needs to understand and factor this in, because only when it reflects the consumer experience, would it be intuitive and easy for them to use. 

For example, an airport app needs to start building functions, keeping in mind when a traveller starts planning his departure (booking a cab, collecting Forex, checking in). Only then, does it truly become a useful companion. Additionally, such thinking helps to bring in newer revenue opportunities too.

2) Limit the user input

People's fingers may fly on the keyboard when using Whatsapp but they are simply not interested in doing the same inside your app. If the customer has to do a lot of manual entry (read : labour) to register, use or make in-app purchases, then he is likely to lose interest, and the app loses the opportunity to engage.

Explore scrollers, drop downs, auto-fill and other options that require the consumer to just scroll and select, rather than enter data.

3) Design is everything - except when it's not
Design is at the heart of a great app but design cannot be subordinate to the user experience. A good looking app is not necessarily an intuitive one and my favorite example of this is the new Meru Cab or OLA app. It's very cool to have a map that automatically displays how far away a cab is. However, what's not so cool, is that there is no easy way in either of these apps to enter my actual postal address. After many failed attempts to do so, the map displays me in a different/wrong location. This puts me under stress, because I am afraid that the cab won't reach me on time! So, the option to enter address should be easily accessible, or it should be easy to pin my location on a map.

4) Limit useless interactivity
It might be very cool to say Hi, how are you, give me a Hi5, or many other friendly things in the app. And of course we want to ask user's questions, or push information. But have you considered whether they want it? Apps need to be short on words, efficient on action and use minimum necessary text to achieve the best UX.

As apps utilise and connect to more intelligent technology including wearables and proximity-based hardware like beacons, we need to limit push notifications and look at more intuitive engagement.

5) The best UX research is observational
It goes without saying that UX requires a lot of testing. However, the best way to test UX is to not to ask a bunch of questions, but to simply sit and watch people using the app. Then, you can ask for explanations. You will be amazed how much you can learn from observation