Mobile accounts for around half of all online traffic have become the primary way that people look up information and browse the web. 

However, to take advantage of the potential that getting in front of mobile audiences can offer, you must have a great understanding of UX design and provide an experience that mobile users will be satisfied with.

And unfortunately, that’s where a lot of companies struggle. Even otherwise forward-thinking businesses don’t have a clear understanding of what is UX design, let alone how to create a convenient and seamless experience for mobile users.

The good news is that there are actually a set of principles and sound practices when it comes to developing a user-centric mobile design, and following them will greatly increase your chances of meeting the expectations of your audience.

To get a quick start, let’s explore some of the most important principles that go into a mobile design that every company operating online must know.

Cut Everything Non-Essential

For a few years now, the discussion about reducing website clutter has been helping companies realize that less is almost always more when it comes to website design and development. 

Today, you could pack a website with more features, pop-ups, navigation bars, and multimedia options than ever before, but while you may think that you’re providing your visitors with choices, you are actually preventing them from understanding what your core message actually is.

As you can probably guess, the same principles are ten times more important when designing the user experience for mobile users. There is already much less space because of the smaller screen, and you still have to find a creative and easy to use navigation system, so anything that is not absolutely vital must go. 

Even if you already have a responsive website, it’s likely that it doesn’t meet today’s requirements for mobile UX design, so you should look at options on how to revamp the design for mobile users.

One good approach is to zero in on the single thing on any given page that provides the user with the most value; something that is at the very core of what the person is trying to accomplish or overcome. 

Once you figure that out, remove everything that isn’t directly related to helping the user achieve it.

If you’re developing an app for ordering food, make the entire page revolve around that single action and everything that the user needs to make it.

If you have a website page where you showcase your services, make the options that they should consider the primary focus of your messaging, designing the CTA in a way that makes clicking through the only natural solution.

The bottom line is that to provide the most value, you must be willing to cut away everything non-essential, strengthening your message and making each page of your mobile site or app, as easy to navigate and understand as possible.

Make It Easy to Read and Click

For many companies designing their mobile UX, button size is often little more than an afterthought. However, there are subtle differences in the way that people click through on links and buttons on mobile and desktop devices, so you must take those differences into account when designing your mobile experience.

More than half of mobile users say that a poor mobile experience with a company’s site or app makes them not want to engage with that business again. And seemingly small details like the size of the navigation buttons can cause enough frustration to make people give up and leave the site altogether.

Luckily, fixing this issue is really easy – just make sure that your buttons are at least 6 millimeters in size, and the vast majority of your users should be able to click through with their fingers without any issues.

At the same time, make sure that your mobile site is also easy to read – make your letters at least 11 points in size, and use clear and easy-to-read fonts like Helvetica. 

Map Out the User Journey

If you want to increase your mobile conversion rate, merely having a set of well-optimized pages won’t be enough. You need to have an understanding of what types of mobile users come to your site or download your app, what needs they have, what obstacles they are facing, and what is the shortest path they can take to overcome their obstacles and become your customers.

That means that you can’t treat your site as a set of pages but need to look at the big picture, mapping out the typical journey that your ideal prospect might take and identifying the opportunities for making it as easy as possible.

When developing mobile navigation, you will already be limited by the constrictions of such a small screen, so every section that you include in your navigation must have a clear purpose.

In fact, if you analyzed the best examples of mobile navigation, you would find that most great sites and apps make the navigation almost invisible on their own, blending it with the design while simultaneously ensuring that the user is always just a click away from the most important pages that they might like to reach.

Another crucial aspect of the navigation is ensuring that the user knows exactly where they are at the moment, and what’s the next logical page to go to. Without this natural driving force of your mobile UX you will lose a lot of visitors because they’ll finish reading a page and won’t know what to do then.

Test Everything

No matter how much effort you put into designing your mobile UX, it won’t matter if the design doesn’t hold up in real-life situations when used by thousands of people. 

If you don’t want to lose a significant part of your customers, you should implement rigorous testing policies for your mobile sites and apps, carefully vetting them before allowing them to be published or updated.

You should also collect data and measure your performance, making changes, and experimenting with variables to see what your users prefer and how they respond to the different options that you provide.

Another crucial aspect of catching issues is providing your users with the ability to report problems quickly. After all, they are doing you a favor by taking the time to report that something’s wrong, so make it as simple as a click of a button, and you might be able to catch most of the unavoidable blunders before they can do any real damage.

Designing a high-quality mobile user experience isn’t something you can do and forget – it’s a continuous process that can take many months or even years to perfect. However, when you finally fine-tune your design to match user expectations, you will have a considerable advantage over your competition, which will serve you for many years to come.

Dave Schneider
He is the founder of LessChurn. In 2012 he quit his job to travel the world, and has visited over 65 countries. In his spare time, he writes at about SaaS and business.