Mobile UX design principles actually differ from the principles upheld in most other computing industries and web industries. Contrary to popular belief, it is very rare that something designed to target PCs will work on tablets or phones, and vice versa. A prime example of mobile UX design principles being misused out of their native environment is the now infamous Windows 8, hated by all but the most dedicated of mobile aficionados.
But, I’m not here to talk about why it’s a bad idea to use these design principles outside of mobile; rather, I will touch on why non-mobile techniques and concepts don’t tend to work on mobile. So, here is a subset of three basic mobile principles that I think need reinforced and further adhered to than they currently are.
First, one of the issues that mobile designers seem to badly miscalculate is how much users will miss multitasking – designing your program to be easy to move in and out of, with the bare minimum of procedure to do so. Mobile users cannot use windows tiled in such a way like with desktops, nor can they easily use dual displays, so the easier it is for them to move between programs quickly, the less of a hassle it is going to be.
Of course, there’s more to it than this, and one of the biggest problems mobile UX people encounter is screen real estate, which causes two basic hurdles to have to be jumped. For one, they have to be able to make the text readable, without hogging the entire screen, and I confess myself that they seldom get it to where I don’t have to squint to see it myself. They have to balance this with controls that are big enough to distinguish, without also crowding the screen. This often requires minimalist interfaces, which calls for a very specific kind of mindset in design.
Finally, there’s the biggest problem, which is touch. Touch technology is the only solution, for now, for interfacing with these devices without shrinking screens further, or making the devices more cumbersome, but they themselves are a very cumbersome interface. Designing for touch involves trying to not require double-taps, or drags or swipes, which it turns out are not very intuitive or natural motions to make for interacting with any kind of control panels. Designing your interface and your navigation to avoid unnatural and unfairly precise control actions will serve, along with good use of space and ease of entry/exit, to make the entire process much more efficient and pleasant to use.
Mobile UX design principles are clearly different and require a certain kind of thinking and philosophy that doesn’t work on PC. When selecting a UX designer to spearhead anything mobile, be sure they are themselves mobile users, so they can get inside the heads of the target user base, and the target platform and actually have the so-called clairvoyance by sociology that is necessary for things to work. UX is important in all things digital, so no matter what it may be, you need to make it a major and ongoing step in development. There are no exceptions.