Insights

Mobile Usability: Tips for Creating Great User Experiences

[fa icon="calendar"] Jun 10, 2013 7:30:00 AM / by Katrice Svanda

Katrice Svanda

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Today, few of us have only one screen in our lives.  And the number only keeps growing.  Between tablets, smartphones, laptops, and the like, we access information via applications or websites from a variety of screens, on devices with a range of capabilities.  What does this constant interaction with our inanimate friends mean?  Businesses need to focus on creating positive user experiences.  They need to develop applications and websites that are quick to load and easy to use.  Nothing frustrates a user more than slow loading information and confusing functionality.  And that frustration means they won’t come back. 

Why care? Mobile device usage isn’t just on the rise, it’s soaring:

  • Research conducted by Nielsen found that close to half, 49.7% in fact, of U.S. mobile subscribers own smartphones.  That number is up from 36% in 2011. Talk about fast adoption!
  • According to Forrester, tablet use has also seen a surge, with 19% of adults in the U.S. owning at least one of the devices in 2012.

Even more interesting?  Users switch between devices according to their needs.  Research indicates that shoppers are wary of purchasing over their mobile phones due to security concerns, but frequently use them to check prices.  What does all this mean for you?  If you’re planning on developing a mobile application or website, you have an audience.  But, how do you make sure they see what you have to offer and come back for more?  The answer is in the experience. 

Here are some key common sense (though often overlooked) tips to keep in mind when developing a mobile friendly application or website that will provide a positive user experience:

  • Design With Audience in Mind
  • Consider Context of Use
  • Think About the Platform

Audience

User-friendly applications start with…thinking about the user.  This step may seem pretty obvious, but consider your audience and design accordingly.  More experienced users can handle more intricate functionality and having all tools at their fingertips.  Inexperienced users, not so much.  These folks might require simpler presentation and functionality, accomplished through quick tutorials and fewer choices.  A more basic presentation can help inexperienced users still have positive experiences and quickly find the information they need.

Context of Use

It’s not just about who is using your app, but about where they’re using your app.  Environment plays a huge role in how we interact with mobile applications and sites.  Am I at home on my iPad or am I checking my smartphone for 30 seconds on the bus to work?  Think about how and where your mobile application or site is being accessed in the real world and how much attention and time an environment affords your user.  If I’m trying to check the weather as I run out the door and it takes my weather app 40 seconds to load, chances are I won’t bother using it again.  If I’m at home using my iPad before drifting off to sleep, I might not be so concerned.  Components such as excessive images can slow your load time.  Consider the context of use to determine how variables like data speed and screen size will or won’t impact user experience.

Platform

Different platforms have differences in presentation.  Consider what is intuitive to users of specific platforms to achieve a user-friendly mobile experience. Device interface plays a key role in mobile usability so dot your i’s and cross your t’s to make sure apps are friendly to different users on different devices.  Also optimize the experience by eliminating the need for horizontal scrolling on smartphones and by avoiding excessive images that slow load time.

With mobile usability, it’s all about the experience.  Test application and sites in-house or with a limited user base to ensure appropriate functionality and positive user experience before rolling out to your larger audience.

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About Digital Impact Agency

Digital Impact Agency is a creative firm specializing in interactive media and inbound marketing strategies for manufacturing and technology companies, professional service firms (architectural, engineering, construction, legal and consulting), nonprofits and enterprise companies. We are a team of innovative entrepreneurs focused on creating the most strategic and effective communication channels for our clients.

Topics: website design and development, technology marketing

Katrice Svanda

Written by Katrice Svanda

Katrice Svanda is a Founder and CEO for Digital Impact Agency, a Houston-based digital media and inbound marketing agency. Her background includes over 15 years of experience in the technology industry from marketing emerging technologies to participating in several technology spin-offs. Katrice has created successful marketing campaigns for business-to-business, business-to-consumer, and business-to-government.