Jan 23, 2019

Designing for Mobile 101: What You Need to Know

As of 2018, there are 5.135 billion unique mobile users worldwide, representing a 68 percent penetration of the global population. That's a huge market of people eager for engaging apps and mobile services, making a career as an Android Developer or iOS developer a tempting proposition. Designing for mobile has its own challenges to overcome, but it's a rewarding career with the possibility to create applications that revolutionize the way people live their lives online and in the real world.

Understanding Mobile UX

Mobile user experience (mobile UX) is a core concept of designing for mobile. As mobile devices offer a different user experience than laptops or desktop computers, it's essential to keep that difference in mind. Common mobile UX considerations for ensuring a positive end-user experience include:

  • Instant access: Most people use their mobile devices in short bursts, quickly checking a website while waiting in a queue or reading an article in the coffee shop, so apps and services should respond instantly as demand arises.
  • Streamlined controls: Mobile devices should be accessible and easy to use, easily adapting to the context in which the user is operating, such as adjusting the screen orientation for the best viewing experience and providing controls that work with one or two hands.
  • Engaging content: A mobile is a portal to a world of information. Apps and websites must be engaging and accessible to encourage users to prioritize them over thousands of other options.
  • Personalization: Personalizing an experience makes it more engaging and helps to serve the end user with preferred content, which improves the overall experience.

Mobile Design Best Practices

When designing for mobile, the most important thing is to put yourself in the shoes of your end user and to ask yourself if the product provides the functionality and ease of use that you would expect. Design guidelines to consider include:

  • Avoid clutter: Real estate on a mobile screen is at a premium, so ditch your cumbersome navigation bar and remove unnecessary elements that crowd the screen. Use a font type and size that's easy to read on any screen size.
  • Focus on navigation: Large buttons that are easy to use on a touchscreen, search bars with drop-down menus, and minimal requirements for typing all help to make navigation easier. Consider that many people use a phone with one hand, so keep important functions close to where a user's thumb naturally rests.
  • Provide feedback: If a user taps a button, let the user know the operation was successful by providing a suitable response such as a "click" sound.

Develop Your Skills

Designing for mobile requires a different approach to development, so it pays to take dedicated courses that provide the fundamental principles for success. Visit Udacity to learn about Udacity Nanodegree programs for Android development, Android basics, web development, and other subjects that help you get the edge on your opposition in the competitive field of mobile development.