As a software development manager, making the transition from desktop UI design to mobile can be tricky. You have to achieve similar goals through mobile UI (converting browsers into prospective customers, providing information on products etc.) as you would with desktop, but you’re going to have to think much harder about how you fulfil your objectives. It’s not just space you have to consider either; there are some fundamental elements of mobile UI that should always be consistent. A well-designed interface should be clear and concise and should be totally consistent from one view to the next. Mobile users touch, tap and swipe rather than click, so you need to make sure that each action within your mobile UI provides feedback for the user.
All too often marketers make the mistake of homogenising customers into a single group without different characteristics and traits. However within any company, consumers of a particular product or service will have massively different levels of expertise and know-how. In terms of mobile UI design and development, novice users will be much slower to progress through the app or website and will be more prone to ‘tap errors’ or pressing the wrong button. They’ll be less certain about the consequences of tapping certain buttons and clear UI signposts are required to eliminate uncertainty and provide a coherent mobile experience.
Be aware of fat fingers. When designing your mobile UI you should consider users with different sizes of fingers. If icons and buttons are designed to be too small people wont be able to tap them. Any button less than 1cm in width will become harder to touch, subsequently slowing the whole user experience. In addition to maintaining a minimum size of button, you should consider the benefits of using non-uniform button sizes in order to signal to novice users which buttons are important to press. There is a scientific rule for button size on mobile. The size of each button should be directly proportionate to the probability that an expert mobile user would need to select it. Make sure your button sizes are consistent and able to facilitate a slick and easy UX.
There is a good reason why most UI elements are placed either at the top or bottom of the app or responsive site. Most mobile users will hold a smartphone in the same way. The palm of the hand is used to cradle the phone, while the thumb is used as the primary digit for tapping buttons. For right-handed mobile users, the easiest location to tap a button is in the bottom-right or bottom-left of the screen. Similarly its difficult for right-handed mobile users to access a button located at the top of the app on the opposite (left) side of the phone. Forcing a smartphone user to access the opposing top corner of the app will also disrupt the flow of the UX as users have to cover UI elements through stretching their thumb.
If you’re a software development manager taking your first steps into the world of mobile, contact us today. Waracle are ‘tooled-up’ to develop mobile-first software. We’ve been developing mobile apps and responsive sites for the past 6 years with some of the UK’s biggest businesses. We can help get you started, get something into the marketplace and gradually handover to your software development team to ensure that mobile-first thinking and expertise is tapered into your company.