Remember last month when you downloaded a new app and after a day or two stopped using it? Turns out you’re not alone. Apps lose 77% of mobile userswithin the first three days alone. Talk about the importance of a first impression.

With only a few days before the probable outcome of losing a user, mobile apps and websites need to make a strong impression as soon as a user begins interacting with the platform. In order to do this, UX design is of the utmost importance.

There are a lot of elements that go into successful UX design, but here are 7 simple tips to improve mobile UX design to get you started.

  1. Accessibility first.

Whether you are designing an app or a mobile website, the first thing you should be considering is accessibility. People use mobile because it is faster and more convenient than a desktop. That same philosophy should apply to mobile UX design. The first step to making your mobile design accessible is employing a clear call to action (either on the splash screen or landing page) that identifies the purpose of your product. Clicking and scrolling can be a hassle on mobile devices, so the key elements and features of your app or mobile site should be immediately apparent to users in order to minimize frustration.

When organizing content, think about intuitive and simple ways to group tasks and information together to simplify navigation. Remember that with the smaller screen of mobile devices, you can’t afford to have bulky menus with lots of clickable options. Organize your menus as cleanly and as simply as possible to ensure that users can find what they are looking for. Not all audiences are digital-savvy and know what many universal icons mean (such as the hamburger for menu), so if you are targeting an older audience, consider keeping words rather than icons in your menu (albeit to a minimal degree).

  1. Onboard your user.

As part of making your mobile platform accessible, you should onboard your user as much as possible. For mobile sites, this is a less important factor than it is for apps since they’re in a common interface, but it nevertheless can help you convert a visitor into a long term user. A brief tutorial showing where key functions are can change a visitor’s experience into a positive one and rarely detracts from it.

If possible, make the onboarding interactive. Users will remember it better, and user engagement is half the battle when selling any product. Besides a tutorial, it’s important to have an easily located FAQ and Help area to address any questions visitors may have. Communication between your platform and your visitor can make all the difference in creating a long term relationship between users and your product.

  1. Be gentle with sign-up forms.

The abrasive signup forms that pop up immediately upon opening a website or app are one of the biggest deterrents for user interaction. Research has shown that 86% of users dislike sign-up forms, and 23% won’t convert because of a form even after clicking the sign-up button. Rather than preventing users from seeing any content before making them sign up, give them a reason to sign up by telling them the benefits they will gain.

The top converting forms online are contest sign-up forms with a 28% conversion rate. This is because there’s a clear goal for the user: the prize of the contest. Provide similar value relevant to your business. Tell users more about the app or the website and what benefits it has to users. Convince people that your product and platform have value before asking them to sign up for it.

When the time to ask visitors to sign up does come, make it as easy as possible. Sign up forms are a finicky business. Shorten the form as much as you can, both in terms of the number of entries and the space it takes up on the screen. If possible, use a social login (login users through Facebook, Gmail, etc) to simplify the process for visitors and increase their conversion rate.

  1. Create a useful search function.

Mobile users want information fast, and few options can provide the speed they are looking for as well as a good search function can. A mobile site should have an easily visible search function on every page. It doesn’t necessarily need to be on a sticky menu, but users should always know where to find the search bar. Where it’s placed depends on content and the device it’s viewed on (keep in mind Apple and Google’s guidelines, as well as what is best for your product).

The search function should also be intelligent enough to account for misspellings (who has a perfect track record typing on a smartphone? Hint: no one) and offer intelligent suggestions on alternative search entries. Making your content easy to find is a boon to any business. Specifically, creating a good search function for e-commerce can be key, ensuring that users don’t have to wade through products to find what they are looking for. Filters are particularly useful in these circumstances (allowing users to search by men’s or women’s clothing, for example), and they increase conversion rates by locating what the user wants with ease and speed.

  1. Be wary of trends.

This sounds a bit silly, but it’s true. Sure, trends are popular, but trends are also an easy way to fall into common mistakes of UX design. Trends like carousels and scroll hijacking can be aesthetically appealing, but your product should not be focused on beauty. Instead, you want to provide users with functionality and the solution to their problem or the answer to their question. Trends can often be superfluous, and focusing on them can damage the user experience you are trying to create.

Looking at it from another angle, adding trends to your app or website can make it more visually appealing, but it also makes it harder to stand out. If your product looks the same as every other piece of trendy marketing, what’s to separate your product from them? With so many options in the digital world, branding is more important than ever, and successful brands aren’t built on visual identity so much as on community and market awareness.

  1. Simplify content.

If a mobile app or website is trying to provide what the user wants in an efficient manner, then the best way to facilitate that is through simplifying its content. Limit the number of colors, fonts, and font sizes used on the mobile platform so the user isn’t visually overwhelmed. Pick a few of each and use them effectively to identify different types of content or to make specific sections stand out. Mobile UX design should avoid dividers as much as possible. Using dividers like lines, boxes, and borders take up space, and mobile devices only have so much space to utilize.  

Help users accomplish what they want to by removing clutter and unnecessary content. Similarly, make sure that links and interactive portions are clearly labeled or identifiable as such and function with mobile in mind. Few things are as annoying to users as accidently clicking a link when they meant to scroll along the page or repeatedly tap a link trying to hit the sweet spot where it works.

  1. Regular User Testing

Don’t listen to what users want; pay attention to what they do. If you analyze the behavior of users interacting with your product, you’ll discover where the flaws in your UX design are. Actions speak louder than words, and you’ll learn more about what users want by trying to understand how users interact with your design than by trying to understand what they say they want. Figuring out what users want to use your product for will help the designer craft an experience tailored to the user’s needs. This requires a lot of mobile user testing, which is costly and time consuming, but ultimately will lead to a better product.

User testing will also help you identify whether features in an app or mobile website are actually being used. Even if a feature sounds like a good idea, sometimes users don’t end up interacting with it. Regardless of the time and money sunk into developing the feature, if it’s not being used or gaining any traction, discard it. Additional features that aren’t providing value to the product are needlessly complicating the user experience and detract from what the user wants to accomplish.

Hopefully these tips will help you improve your mobile UX design and increase your conversion rates. If you don’t have the ability to implement these tips yourself, consider hiring a UX designerto help you increase your conversion rates. If you have any other tips you’d like to share, leave them in the comments below!

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