Mobile UX Design: Common Pitfalls to Avoid
19 Oct 2016
The creators of mobile apps usually want to take everything into account trying to please its target audience. However, the result they get is the opposite – clumsy or supersaturated UX design ruins an app even before it comes to the store.
In this article, we’re going to consider the most widespread UX pitfalls that are waiting for unsophisticated app creators. We’ll give you advice on how to overcome these weaknesses and develop a handy and useful app.
UX pitfalls can happen at the following stages:
- Planning – when you have a product idea and need to decide about its implementation
- Creation – when developers start to build a UX architecture
- Optimization – when a mobile solution is used already and it requires some changes in UX design
1. Mobile App Planning
When it comes to mobile app planning, there is a risk of making several mistakes that can negatively influence the UX design.
Pitfall: An app has no purpose and user actions are not obvious
If you develop a mobile app without a purpose that is as clear to the developers as it is for the users, the app is doomed.
All the development process participants have to understand why the app is needed and what target actions of users will bring the result. For example, a photo editor app has user actions like uploading photos and using tools for photo correction. Unfortunately, use-cases are not frequently obvious.
Define a number of problems that the app has to solve. The app’s logic and functionality depend on the tasks it solves. Make sure that users don’t need to take many steps to achieve the goal and carefully thought-out navigation brings them to target actions. Prepare a prototype. It helps to visualize user behavior within the app and define use-cases.
Pitfall: No research of target audience
Without analyzing your target audience, you cannot understand how a future mobile app should look like and what elements you need to consider for building a UX architecture. When you know your target audience, you can separate the required features from the functions that are better to avoid.
Investigate potential app users and ensure that the app meets their needs and works for their perception. For instance, if an app is targeted at preschool children, it can include bright colors and animated characters. On the contrary, if the app audience is elderly, try to create a simple menu and use large-scale letters.
Pitfall: No analysis of the app’s competitors
While app creators believe in the uniqueness of their solutions, it’s important not to forget about app’s competitors. If you neglect your competitors, you can make the same UX mistakes that they’ve solved already.
Make a list of your app’s competitors and analyze them in accordance with user needs, functionality, UI/UX design, and promotion methods. Try to find reviews of the app-competitors – it helps you get their strengths and weaknesses.
2. Mobile App Creation
Let’s suppose that the app target audience is known, the main tasks are defined, and you are ready to build the app. However, developers can face lots of pitfalls at this stage and it’ll negatively influence the effectiveness of the final mobile solution.
Pitfall: Imitation of web design
If you create an app in the same way as designing a website, users will definitely refuse to use it. Many app authors went through the same grief and the majority learned that interaction between users and mobile devices differs from the work with a desktop computer. A mobile screen is smaller than a computer or laptop screen. Moreover, interaction with smartphones and tablets is completely different – we do all actions using finger movements and unwillingly enter long texts. Given that, mobile users want to do everything on mobile devices as quickly as they do on the web.
Make sure that the app reacts to finger movements in an appropriate way because the dynamic here is different from working with a computer mouse. Take into account a convenient arrangement of tap targets – within the distance of an extended finger. Add a virtual keyboard to the app. If the app concept needs number sets or calendar dates, make it simpler with various options of keyboard layouts with numbers. Additionally you can add Email signs with standard symbols and extensions to the keyboard. All of that makes the interaction of users with the app more convenient.
Pitfall: Supersaturated User Interface
As you know from the Pareto Principle, 80% of a company's revenue is generated by 20% of its total customers. Regarding mobile apps, it can be rephrased that 80% of mobile users usually use only 20% of the apps features. For this reason, you should not overload an app with extended functionality.
Remember the KISS rule – keep it simple stupid. Set priorities: define what features are more important for users than others. Don’t make things too complicated. Don’t confuse the user with non-standard sections and transitions.
Pitfall: Too much design
A creative approach to the app design is a great thing! However, it’s important to keep up a balance. Otherwise, the play with fonts and illustrations can distract or confuse users and they won’t get the key idea.
Try not to abuse gradients or shadows while focusing a user’s attention on the main information. Use one font for the whole app UI. If you’d like to change it, change the size or the type weight.
Divide the information into the logical parts with subtitles. Separate these parts from each other using white space; give it some air, not lines. Visually speaking, lines make the app design tight and heavy.
If you use animations, be reasonable. Apply only intuitively clear symbols.
Use simple color schemes – it helps to express the idea of the brand more clearly and improve the navigation inside the app.
Pitfall: Disregarding UX testing
Sometimes app creators have a vastly exaggerated degree of confidence about their product. They are so convinced in the logic of UX architecture and navigation, in well thought-out design, in the practical value of the app that they simply forget about testing.
This tricky pitfall can bring negative impressions to the app from users. On the contrary, testing can help receive feedback in time, try all the use-cases, and check schemes of interaction.
It goes without saying, that the app has to be tested for all possible bugs in code.
As for the UX design, it can be tested before the official release as well as when the app is already in the app store. There are two popular ways to test the mobile app before a release date. The first is corridor testing with one of the possible scenarios. The second is focus tests with various scenarios of user actions.
In the first case, the app can be tested at the prototype stage. You can ask first comers, colleagues, or friends to describe how they’re going to make one or another action with the app. Quite soon you can get feedback for certain use-cases such as in-app registration.
In the second case, you should prepare several scenarios and give a device to the research participant with the installed app and make a video of all his actions according to your scenarios. This helps to test several different use-cases, study them in detail, and make changes in the UX design when it’s required.
After the release has come you can gather all the indicators about user behavior via automatic tools. Here are some of the more widely known: Appsee, Flurry, Mixpanel, and Google Analytics. The choice is yours.
3. Mobile App Optimization
When the mobile app is tried-and-true, and you’ve received feedback about the first app version, you can improve some specific UX features. This allows you to fine-tune those details which you didn’t finish at the start due to key functionality.
Pitfall: Inconsistent onboarding
Mobile onboarding is a “highlight tour” or a “guide” for using the mobile app. The main task of the onboarding is to explain to users what the app’s purpose is and to tell about the main functions step by step.
App creators go to extremes here. Some will disregard this useful tool. Others add such detailed and intrusive tips that users become irritated and cannot start working with the app.
Choose the golden middle. Add obligatory onboarding for the first app run as changing screens with main features of the app. And then give users the opportunity to look at the onboarding presentation when they want. Use some tips to direct users and delicately manage their actions. The tips have to be easy to view but not annoying at the same time.
Pitfall: Multi-stage and uncomfortable registration
Registration is not necessary in all apps. If it’s not essential for your app, it’s better not to have it. If the app features are directly connected with the user data including their payment data, then it’s better to include a registration form in the app.
However, one more pitfall is waiting for app authors here — a desire to gather as much information as possible leads to multi-stage and complicated registration.
Complicated registration forms, unclear fields, a lot of manual work, and monotonous data input — is very boring and frustrating. Add to that a risk to lose unsaved data and you’ll see how the percentage of people who refuse to use the app increases.
Is there a way out of this situation? How to collect data about users and not to miss a large part of the target audience?
Avoid excessive fields. Divide a registration form into several blocks. Provide tips for filling out the form (for example, digits in a telephone number). Minimize the manual work — add to the app visual calendars setting the year of birth in accordance with your target audience. For example, if the app is targeted to youth, add 1990 by default. Then users won’t have to scroll a lot to find their date of birth.
The most important thing is keeping the registration fields filled with data. If text is erased there because of a mistake, it will probably discourage users from using the app.
A carefully thought-out UX design is very important for engaging users in a mobile app. This means a simple and intuitive user interface, comfortable functionality, and positive emotions. We hope our tips will help you to minimize possible mistakes and improve the UX design in a way so that your app can attract many loyal users.
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