The mobile web has chased the desktop web all through this year. And now, when 2015 is wrapping up, the mobile web seems to have gone past its desktop counterpart. This puts web professionals in a somewhat hasslesome situation as survival for them now requires merging yesterday’s best practices with today’s best practices.
The equivalent of web design on the handheld platform is app design. True, there are mobile version sites that pop up in the m.xyz.com format, but more often than not, such low-bandwidth sites make users scroll up, down and sideways a lot.
Only app, no website
Even though some industry experts have called it a cost-cutting measure, the app-only strategy is more than that. It helps a brand get more personal with a user. Unlike a website, an app is easy to program. As a result, certain features such as geotagging, personalized notification, etc are better applied on the mobile platform and fetch a brand a better ROI.
The biggest benefit of this strategy is it eliminates dependence on the browser. When a website loads on a browser, the surfing experience is largely determined by the loading speed, which depends on the browser’s weight. When one tab is open on Firefox, the approximate memory usage is 1GB whereas on Chrome, it’s 850MB. Hence a device with low-bandwidth and low-resolution screen should eliminate the dependence on browsers.
Mobile apps design
True, the app-only strategy is a toddler at this moment, and it’ll take time for it to walk on its feet. But since staying ahead of others in the race delivers a competitive advantage, developers should start to take app designing seriously. It’s the same as designing a website – if the browsing experience is entertaining, the leads will start to deposit in the bottom of the funnel one by one.
They need tips, especially because we are heading to 2016, which indicates the outdated practices can no longer be relied on. Here are some useful app designing tips for them:
Grid and spacing
Just because you don’t see a grid, doesn’t mean it’s not there. Always remember that it’s not possible to design a mobile app without grids. A grid is the default characteristic of every mobile surface, and it consists of granular rectangular boxes, segregated in terms of rows and columns.
Basically, there should be coherence between the grid, the spacing and touchpoints (user’s fingers). Spacing, in this context, is signified by whatever you put on the surface. Each single stroke, whether it’s a letter, a punctuation mark or a symbol, defines the spacing because after putting it on the surface, you define the padding and the margin.
In one of my previous articles, I discussed the importance of adding space between the lines and in the margin. This is essential because the mobile typography is all the rage now and its best practices include accommodating catchy fonts, for which, you need to allow enough space so users could comfortably tap and the texts don’t break.
Color and customer engagement
The success of marketing insights depends on whether they are being applied on a micro level or on a macro level. Micro-level applications are more effective than macro-level applications. The use of colors to trigger customer engagement is a micro-level application. However, there are a few considerations when using colors for designing a mobile app.
The considerations include figuring out the user flow and which activities they mostly center around. The use of colors should facilitate users in performing the activities. Another important function of colors is depicting the purpose of a particular page – this can serve the brand interest.
Let’s say there are three buttons on the screen, all of which are to be painted in green. The most important of them should be painted in a loud shade of green; the button of lesser importance should be painted in a lighter shade of green. Importance, in this context, means important in terms of brand benefit.
The mobile screen is low-resolution, low-contrasting, and the mobile web is of low bandwidth. It signifies the UI elements are essentially different than those of the desktop platform.
The key aspects of interface development include understanding the user’s preferences and expectations first, and then linking the design strategies to them; this stops the app from appearing boring. The improvement of usability aspects refers to optimizing the browsing experience for swiping, tapping, zooming in and zooming out using the index finger and the thumb.
One crucial aspect of the desktop platform is the cursor. We feel at ease hovering it over desktop icons using the mouse because it’s developed to separate between two pixels. But on the mobile platform, the thickness of the fingers is followed by usability design. This makes it somewhat difficult for the app developers to render optimal-sized buttons and the placement of the navigation items.
It might surprise you that I am discussing navigation designing separately because navigation is an interface element. The truth is an intuitive navigation is comprised of certain features, which require a detailed and an elaborate discussion.
The success in designing an intuitive navigation depends on estimating the possible responses from the users. Here’s a link that rounds up a number of websites with intuitive navigation. Developing such a website isn’t difficult on the desktop platform. But the handheld domain is an entirely different ballpark, especially if no website corresponds the application.
An intuitive navigation facilitates the flow of users from one element of the app to another element. It’s possible when you create familiar patterns for users. Such patterns are like roadmaps, they helps users familiarize with the UI elements. Links marked with colors, buttons, etc are the UI elements. The patterns guide users so they become familiar with how each aspect of the app/website works.
Image Courtesy: tweakyourbiz.com