In our digital world, more and more interactions are happening via mobile devices. Did you know that mobile internet traffic accounts for nearly 60% of all internet traffic? And this number seems set to grow.
At the same time, we’re no stranger to frustrating mobile app UX (user experience) designs plagued by broken layouts, tiny buttons, complicated navigation, long load times, and convoluted checkout processes.
With the growth of mobile traffic, a user-friendly mobile application and brand experience are imperative in today’s market. If you want to reach more customers and be at their fingertips when they want your products or services, you need a mobile app UX that meets users’ expectations.
In this blog, we’ll talk about what a mobile app UX actually is and why it’s important before going on to discuss 15 best practices for a stellar mobile app UX. And here’s a bonus: at the end of this blog, we have an amazing video that shows you creative examples of what you can build with sleek, modern, customizable UI components.
Let’s dive in!
What exactly is a mobile app UX, and why should you care?
According to the Interaction Design Foundation, “Mobile UX design is the design of user experiences for hand-held and wearable devices. Designers create solutions (typically applications) to meet mobile users’ unique requirements and restrictions. Designers focus on accessibility, discoverability and efficiency to optimize on-the-go interactive experiences.”
Mobile app UX design principles involve delivering intuitive, effective, efficient, and discoverable interactions via mobile devices like smartphones, tablets, and wearables. These interactions involve not just the apps we use on a daily basis, but also the underlying software and hardware.
So why should you care about building a great mobile app UX? The short answer is that if users find your app to be memorable and engaging, they’ll likely buy from you! According to Intechnic, every $1 invested in a good UX brings $100 in return. In a similar vein, according to AWS, businesses lose 35% of sales due to a bad UX!
But there’s one part of building a streamlined mobile app UX that’s not always obvious: user engagement.
Designing mobile app user experiences that drive engagement
We’ve seen that if users don’t find your app engaging, they’ll abandon your app and go elsewhere to find the content or products they seek. So what can you do to prevent this?
One answer is to make your mobile app as engaging as possible through communities and real-time interactions with other users. After all, humans are social creatures and the need for positive human interaction is universal. By allowing users to connect with each other and have positive discussions, you are simultaneously increasing conversations (and mindshare!) about your brand and fulfilling this important human need.
So how can you foster communities? One way to do this is to embed in-app chat, voice, and video in your app. You can also take this to the next level with live streaming events or a unified inbox, wherein users can access and continue all conversations (support tickets, notifications, conversations with friends, and more!) they’re having with your brand. All these options are better than relying on SMS and third-party messaging apps because you can reduce communication fragmentation with a context-rich, branded experience that fosters trust.
For example, the application context provides users the reassurance that they are not dealing with phishing scams or other fraudulent activities. With state-of-the-art chat experiences similar to popular 3rd-party platforms, you can keep users in your app for longer while taking control of user data and experience. You can also encourage positive interaction and reduce churn by implementing features like moderating users’ chat directly, or extending the experience with 3rd party integrations services such as payments, shipping, and more. Last but certainly not least, in-app chat is cheaper than SMS! In-app chat needs a Wifi connection and users can send unlimited messages, but SMS costs money to send. This means extra costs for businesses. Moreover, in low-income countries, users frequently rely on Wifi to send free messages, instead of choosing to bear the costs associated with SMS.
We’ve established why in-app chat, as opposed to SMS, is better for user engagement. We’ve also seen the short answer to why a streamlined mobile app UX is important. But let’s take a step back: is implementing a clean, modern mobile UX really so necessary?
Why is mobile app UX important? A closer look
There are approximately 6.6 billion smartphone users worldwide in 2022, with an average of 76% of adults in developed countries (e.g., EU, US, Australia, South Korea, Japan) saying they own a smartphone. Due to this high market penetration, an increasing amount of internet traffic comes from smartphones. This means that the volume of sales from smartphones will increase as well. For example, many retail orders now come from mobile phones. According to Statista, mobile e-commerce sales in the US will reach $431 billion in 2022.
It’s a fact of our digital world that people increasingly rely on mobile devices for daily activities, from dating and retail to telemedicine and banking. From teenagers on TikTok to mature people who are looking to make a purchase, everyone expects a fast and smooth mobile experience. If they don’t get the intuitive and engaging experience they’re looking for, users will be quick to abandon your brand. For example, if users can’t find the content they need or the product they want because of poor navigation or page design, they won’t keep engaging with your mobile app. This can affect revenue. For example, shoppers who encountered negative mobile experiences are 62% less likely to buy from a brand. Meanwhile, 70% of consumers say page load time, a key component of a good mobile app UX, impacts their buying decisions.
Another reason that a mobile app UX is important is that it can have an impact on SEO. Google’s mobile-first indexing predominantly grades the mobile version of a website to inform its ranking. A poor mobile app UX could impact your SEO, making it much harder to get found by your ideal audience.
Also, an attractive UX will entice mobile users to interact with your content, allowing you to collect more user data to inform future design and deliver experiences that meet customer expectations.
It’s clear that an effective mobile app design is now the foundation of any brand’s digital presence. A well-thought-out mobile app UX helps strengthen brand awareness, increase engagement, build customer trust, and ultimately make it easy to buy from you!
So how do you build a good mobile app UX? Next, we’ll talk about best practices that will take your mobile UX to the next level.
Top 15 UX best practices for brands with mobile apps
Simplicity and clarity win the mobile app UX race. Here are the latest mobile app UX best practices to help you increase engagement and drive conversions:
1. Simplify navigation
Easy and intuitive navigation is the key to enticing app users to stay in your mobile app and engage with your content. Use short and easily understandable labels on the navigation menu and tab bars while ensuring they don’t take up too much screen space.
An example of a hamburger menu with streamlined navigation and labels. [Adapted from source.]
An example of tabs being used effectively. [Adapted from source.]
2. Stay focused
Each screen should focus on encouraging users to take one action, such as signing in, choosing an item, or confirming a selection. Use a consistent button shape and color to indicate these actions throughout your app to make it easy for users to know what to do.
An example of a simple login screen. [Adapted from source.]
3. Reduce clutter
Keep your user interface (UI) design simple and streamlined so that users can easily find the information they need. A minimalistic design, paired with unique functionality, is often the best way to capture attention and ensure that users take the desired actions.
4. Prioritize key content
Screen size can make mobile UI design more challenging: you can only fit a small amount of information on a small screen, and users don’t have the patience to scroll forever. Put the most critical content and calls-to-action (CTAs) in the user’s natural reach zone and use visual elements to draw attention to them.
5. Design for human fingers
Tiny buttons can create a frustrating user experience, impacting your conversion rates if users can’t easily find or click on them. That’s why you should optimize your buttons’ size, shape, and color. Apple recommends 44×44 pixels for iOS, and Google recommends 48×48 pixels for Android phones.
6. Follow convention
Use widely accepted icons, design elements, layouts, and gestures to simplify page design and improve usability. For example, use an envelope icon instead of “Send message” to reduce clutter. Bonus: using universally recognizable icons simplifies content translation when you localize your app for foreign markets.
Examples of clean, streamlined icons that follow convention. [Adapted from source.]
7. Improve readability
Select a typeface that works well in different sizes and weights. Set body text at 12 points to ensure the content is legible without zooming. Use white space, ample line height, and padding to reduce clutter and make it easy for users to click on links and buttons.
8. Optimize load time
Users will leave your site or app if it doesn’t load within a few seconds. Improve load time by optimizing your images, simplifying page layout, minifying resources, reducing redirects, etc. You can also use lazy loading to load resources only when needed.
9. Personalize the experience
58% of smartphone users feel more favorable toward brands that offer a mobile experience based on their profile information or past interactions. Your mobile app UX should deliver targeted content and communications (e.g., via push notifications) to drive engagement and conversions.
An example of a push notification.*
10. Stay consistent
Today’s consumers move fluidly from one channel to another and expect brands to keep up without missing a beat. Your mobile UX should align with your other online and offline properties to create a seamless omnichannel user experience across all touchpoints.
11. Reduce friction
Simplify user flows so visitors can easily accomplish their goals. For example, asking a new customer to create an account, and filling out endless form fields before they can make a purchase, can impact your conversion rates. You can also leverage mobile-specific features such as tap-to-call and autocomplete to streamline the mobile app UX.
Simplified flow for booking a flight. [Adapted from source.]
12. Ensure accessibility
15% of the world’s population experience some form of disability. Follow the latest Web Content Accessibility Guidelines so users with impairments can interact with your app, consume your content, and make purchases.
13. Provide real-time support
Mobile experiences are characterized by instant gratification. Who wants to send a message and wait 24 hours for an email reply? Include a live chat feature so customers can interact with your brand in real-time, have their questions answered, and complete their transactions. This can skyrocket user satisfaction with your customer support functions.
14. Foster communities
Consumers expect a dynamic mobile experience from their favorite brands. This includes the ability to interact with other like-minded individuals on topics of interest. Adding a community component to your mobile app UX can drive engagement and keep users coming back. In fact, it’s just as important for businesses to have a go-to-community strategy in addition to a go-to-market strategy!
15. Deliver a secure experience
Users are savvy about data security. Your mobile UX must make them feel safe—especially if you’re in a highly-regulated industry (e.g. healthcare or finance) and handle sensitive customer data via mobile touchpoints.
Good news: You don’t have to reinvent the wheel
Today, it’s easy to grab an app template with basic UI elements already laid out, so you don’t have to start from scratch.
But things get more complicated when it comes to interactive features like chat, voice/video calls, and live streaming—they’re complex, and you have to keep them up-to-date with fast-changing user needs, consumer expectations, and best practices.
Sendbird makes it a breeze to build an industry-leading conversation experiences without the time-consuming research and tedious testing of the traditional UX and UI design process. With Sendbird, you can embed a feature-rich and flexible chat experience in your mobile app in mere minutes with our chat UIKit to increase engagement and drive conversions. You can leverage our APIs and SDKs to build communities and connect your fans via group chat and voice or video calls. With our comprehensive tutorials and documentation, you’ll be up and running in no time!
As promised above, here’s an awesome video that shows you what you can build with our customizable UI components.
Why not try Sendbird to improve app engagement with our mobile-ready conversation platform?
*Please note that Amazon is in no way affiliated with this image.