I’ll be presenting next month at the Practical Software Quality and Testing Conference in San Diego. My tutorial, Mobile UX is the New StoreFront, will explore the fact that the mobile storefront has replaced many brick and mortar businesses. The best example is Amazon.com. Amazon started selling books, but were they a physical bookstore? They competed with bookstores, but in reality they were and are a software company. At the time, the platforms they supported included various versions of browsers on different computer operating systems. Today, as the mobile storefront continues to mature, so does the importance of the user experience. The User Experience (UX), at one point, stood for button placement and colors in helping users find things and get things done. Today, those priorities are considered given, basic usability issues that everyone understands and has conquered. However, there is much more than meets the eye.
Firstly, not everyone has conquered basic usability design issues. If you look at 10 different mobile apps or mobile websites, you’ll find that at least half have poor usability. And on the other hand, if they have ‘conquered’ basic usability issues, they may not have solved the right problem.
Before diving into buttons, scroll bars, graphics, menu/navigation and color contrast, many forget to address what the user is trying to accomplish. As your storefront, your marketing has done a good job at getting people into the store, but now what? Where do they go? What do they look at? You have to decide what you want them to do and figure out what it is that they want to do.
Once you answer these key questions, you can start designing your mobile storefront – your mobile app. Let’s look at these questions and corresponding usability design issues followed by the resulting UX.
Key Questions to Ask When Designing and Optimizing Mobile UX
|Questions to Ask||Design Issues||Resulting User Experience|
|Ensure that you understand the top tasks in order of priority. Design your 1st level screen to have quick access to those top tasks. Make sure you include access not only to things they want to do, but also keep in mind that “first,” “most important,” and “most frequent” are not always the same. Design for task concordance whereby the most frequent tasks are also the easier ones to get done.||Making these top tasks accessible and considering task concordance will enable the user to quickly access what they want and need to get their tasks done quickly. For a mobile app, that’s more important than fancy buttons or graphics. Look at Yelp; it’s painfully simple, but took a lot of design, thinking, and understanding of users to make it that simple. Simple is good.|
|Remember that most users of mobile apps are on the go! They might want to find your email address or call you, so make sure that key information (like your address and phone number) is easy to find and use. Don’t make them cut and paste.||People want information and access on their phone at a specific point in time and for a specific amount of time. After that, your window of opportunity might close. Make sure you know what the user wants and when. This will give the user the impression that you understand them, ultimately leading to satisfaction.|
|Hopefully, your goals are aligned with your users, but if not, consider the use of colors and sizes to help them find what you think should be important to them.||If you are focusing on your users and what they want to get done, supporting them in what they want to know and see, then your goals should theoretically be aligned. Make your specific objective of having users complete a certain task a sub-objective of what they want.|
Just asking these simple questions can lead you down the path to an application that satisfies your end users and gives them the user experience they expect from your brand.