Mobile User Experience- Best Practices

Despite my ire over this topic, mobile user experience is starting to get old now, because I kind of feel like I’m just repeating myself needlessly. There are a specific set of big mistakes being made to advise on, well, not making, and there are limitations to the hardware designs that also lend to a different kind of philosophy and concern set coming into play. Well, like I said, as far as mobile user experience, I’ve talked this to death already, so I guess I’ll just say this yet again until it’s hammered home. Sigh. Well, the sooner you mobile designers get this stuff down, the sooner you don’t have to listen to me and, the sooner I can stop this repetition! New Input Forms: Given these devices have yet to standardize some kind of slide out keyboard, and even were that present, the GUI interaction being forced to one of two tools … we find ourselves trying our best to create new and inventive ways to handle input. Lots of things have been tried, such as handwriting recognition. Turns out, writing by hand still sucks. Another one is gesture systems and shorthand systems, but they’re really not natural for the typical user. Bear in mind, the keyboard concept (pioneered as the typewriter) took over a century to become comfortable for all literate people. Well, as said before, we have a limit of either multi-touch with fingers, or a stylus of one kind or another. We stand on a precipice where we can either regress to the PC Windows on a tablet with a stylus concept, which is in fact comfortable and familiar, or we can move to super efficient multi-touch, which seems more likely now. But, we need to work out better scrolling than the flick, because it loves to register as taps, doesn’t it?! Abuse of Voice: Voice recognition, when it works, is fantastic, but relying on it to replace typing in your software is going to be a bad idea. It’s tedious to use, and disruptive of serenity around you. Resolution: I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again. Write routines that dynamically keep controls at an easy to hit size even at high resolutions. I have an Android tablet with Ice Cream Sandwich on, and it’s a 1080P device. The controls are minuscule and hard to press with system menus and the fancier third party software. Directly due to relenting to old resolution ratio conventions that only work on PC. Notification: If you’re working on a device that can multitask properly, then be sure to use that system’s notification system to sit in easy to spot memory. Don’t go invisible when it loses focus. It’s easy to forget it’s hogging resources, and it’s inconvenient to hunt down the app’s entry again to call it up. That’s so lazy. These are the biggest issues to overcome and consider with mobile user experience. I’ve watched non-techie friends fight these problems, I fight them daily, and it’s just a mess. Solving these problems, along with accepting that mobile will never replace PC in PC’s niche will lead to everyone’s experience with new technology being far less stressful.


Megan Wilson is user experience specialist & editor of UX Motel. She is also the Quality Assurance and UX Specialist at WalkMe Megan.w(at)