October 11, 2013

You’ve got UI covered…what about UX?

Written By Martin Sandhu
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Designing an app is exciting stuff, there’s scope for some pretty cool features and aesthetics which are unique to mobile apps. It makes it easy to get carried away on the user interface (UI) of an app and leave aspects of user experience (UX) by the wayside.

The difference between UI and UX is key here. Put very simply UI is what a user sees when they use an app and UX is what they feel when they use an app – things like navigation for example. The two should go hand in hand, they need to work together effectively in order to create the perfect app!

The main aim of UX is often to reduce friction, to make the users experience of it as straight-forward and frustration-free as possible. However, there are some fairly common issues, even mobile apps built by well known brands encounter, so here are our top tips to getting UX right…

Simplify the design
Mobile apps should generally be a single column. It can be difficult for businesses to move a website to an app, particularly if they love the website they have. Apps work better when they are simple. Unnecessary images, text, columns, animations and buttons make for an overcrowded screen, which will not only confuse users, but is likely to make general navigation difficult too.

Vertical alignment
Forms are not fun at the best of time. Forms on a screen that is just a few inches tall are no fun whatsoever. Making them as easy to fill in as possible is key. One major thing that helps is insuring all the boxes are vertically aligned. Not only does this make it easy to fill in, it’s more aesthetically pleasing too.

Avoid optional fields
Continuing with the forms, avoid adding option fields. If it doesn’t need to be filled in, it’s unlikely to be filled in and therefore it’s just a waste of space! The Holy Grail is to have a form on just one page; so removing any unnecessary fields is essential in the quest for perfect UX.

Add a progress bar
If it’s not possible to condense your form onto one page add a progress bar. Form population on a mobile is tedious and if a user cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel they may just quit.

Think big
Big is best! Touch screens are awkward and there is an art to getting the right sized navigation buttons and calls to action. Users should be able to clearly understand where to go next and be able to select just one button at a time.

The right tools
Giving mobile app users the right tools for the job will make their experience much easier. If a field requires numbers or is multiple choice, use a scrolling option menu. If text is required provide them with a keyboard. Simple touches like this make all the difference and can help you app shine in the crowd.