Five Crucial Elements of Mobile Design


Designing for mobile continues to evolve, and whereas in the past we were content to deal with the problems of slow load times and incorrect rendering, small screens and slow networks, as the technology expands so to have the expectations—mobile users want fast, immersive experiences, and many website designers are finding themselves in the constant state of catching up to create new experiences based on multi-touch functionality and location detection.

When designing for mobile technology now and in the future, keep these five essentials in mind:

  1. People expect lighting-fast experiences on their mobile apps, but the reality is networks are still slower than on desktops. Minimizing assets and improving response times is possible, but also consider creating an “illusion.” For instance, when someone likes a photo on Instagram, the button instantly informs them that their action is complete. In reality, a network connection is still in the process of telling a server what they did, so it’s really the perception of performance and speed.
  2. Getting people to engage with your mobile app is a challenge, and many try to get the most out of every user when they first download and open the app, asking for an email address, grabbing their address book and connecting them to Facebook. If you’re concerned that this approach will turn people away, consider postponing signup and letting people jump in and start using the service.
  3. You can only present so much information on a mobile screen, so think of the mobile canvas first. Skip complex interfaces and concentrate on the concepts mobile tech offers: small screens, a different touch experience, etc.
  4. Restrain yourself and accept the limitations of mobile capabilities. For instance, make sure someone can do things with just one thumb, ensuring a certain task can be completed in seconds, not minutes.
  5. Every swipe, tap and action is important and has a lasting impact on the experience. Decreasing the effort to complete a task makes people feel like they’re making fast progress, increasing participation in the app.

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