4 Important Details that Create Intuitive Mobile Experience

Awareness of detail in the relations a user has with a mobile app interface is the key to designing both a knockout and intuitive mobile experience. We can easily understand how important these details can be by looking at something as simple as a user’s conversation with Siri. In this scenario, it’s been another long Monday at work for John. He doesn’t leave the office until 2 am and wants to be reminded of his client’s call at 10 am. He tells Siri, “Set a reminder for my client call at 10 am tomorrow.” Tomorrow by definition is Wednesday. Instead of setting a reminder for 10 am Wednesday, Siri asks John, “By tomorrow do you mean Wednesday or Tuesday?”

How does Siri know that by ‘tomorrow’, John probably meant Tuesday, not Wednesday? Siri didn’t know it, but the interaction designers at Apple did. So how did they know we really mean 10 am Tuesday and not, 10 am Wednesday? Here are two scenarios sketching out what may have motivated this attention to detail:

  1. A designer found himself in a similar situation when scheduling a reminder and felt that it was an issue that many people have probably encountered.
  2. A user researcher studies the interaction of multiple users scheduling reminders through Siri and notices a recurring discrepancy between Siri’s definition of “tomorrow after 12 am” and what users really meant to say when scheduling for “tomorrow after 12 am”

Take a walk in the user’s shoes” is a phrase that affords to visualize the very sequence of interactions the user might take. The clever time detail incorporated into Siri is commendable because it demonstrates that design should be created to seamlessly fit into the user’s world, not the designers. So much like this example with Siri, it’s important to remember that we must study the story and details of a user’s interaction in order to make the experience as a whole more intuitive and ultimately, more pleasant. Here are some examples of mobile interactions and designs that have been given the attention to detail that they need to make a truly compelling and intuitive mobile experience.

Read Also: How UX Can Increase Your Customer’s Loyalty

Simplicity, not Scarcity

Making an interface superficial is a matter of keeping what’s essential and leaving no excess to things that are deemed unnecessary It’s about crafting down to the last detail while still keeping the purity and simplicity of the design.

Gmail
Aside from the buttery smooth interactions that make using the new Gmail app a joy to use, it ultimately demonstrates an understanding that checking one’s email is not something most people look forward to. Therefore the interface is structured and designed to help you efficiently and seamlessly complete your ritual.

gmail

The app maintains its function with its seemingly stripped-down interface by focusing on what and how information is presented. Only the most used and everyday features of the app (‘Search’, inbox, and ‘Compose’) remain consistently available in the main interface. Also, utilizing icons, rather than text-based buttons helps declutter the interface; this is an important design detail since it leverages the fact that users are quicker at perceiving and making meaning of images, more so than text descriptions. It’s just how we process information!

Prismatic
Prismatic is an app that allows you to create news feeds based on your interests. At first glance, it’s likely that a user might accuse the design of being too minimal and scarce, rather than the simplicity principle.

prismatic

The contextual menu, however, pops up when you press and hold down on the app. And it’s quite a refreshing take on the execution of a mobile contextual menu. It doesn’t take any search time looking for the buttons to share, save, and recommend since the menu is literally at your fingertips!

Support learnability & memorability

How comfortable is it for users to complete basic tasks the first time they encounter the design? When users return to the design after a period of not using it, how easily can they reestablish proficiency? How many mistakes do users make, how tough are these errors, and how easily can they recover from the errors? It’s important to consider what a user’s learning curve is so that when we innovate and introduce interactions to the user, they pick these tasks up effortlessly and efficiently.

Snapseed
Snapseed is among one of the many photo editing applications out there in the mobile world — so what does it do differently? Well, it makes the learning process easier for each user by providing proper onboarding on how to use the app. It also addresses the memorability issues users have when returning to the app after a considerable amount of time by continuing to provide that onboarding experience. The overlay feature pictured below can be accessed by tapping on the help icon (?), then selecting ‘Show overlay’. These nifty overlays can be referenced whenever needed.

Snapseed photo editing application

Make it efficient

Once users have learned the design, how quickly can they perform tasks? Determine if that interaction really needs to take two taps or three. Efficiency is the key to preventing frustrated users!

Droplr
Sharing anything and everything is an activity we do more than we realize. Droplr has made this process as easy as 1, 2…yep, that’s it. The app lets users share any kind of file. So what? You take a photo, it uploads it, stores it in the cloud, spits out a user friend URL, and then copyies the link to your clipboard for you. All you have to do is take the picture and send the link. Users say this efficient interaction is the next best thing to sliced bread.

Droplr

Make it a metaphor:

The purpose of a metaphor is to present an idea in a way your audience will understand. What better way to make an intuitive mobile experience than to take what you’re already naturally comfortable with and paralleling some UX to it?

Evernote
Evernote is an app that helps you “remember everything”. This is a pretty bold statement that begs to ask the question “So how does its user-centered design support this claim?” Evernote uses a mental model that most users are familiar with: a file system. Now I’m not talking about the file system on your computer. I’m talking about the big clunky file cabinet in your office. While the metaphor references a traditional method of organization, the purpose of the metaphor is to allude to a paradigm the user is familiar with. What’s even more unique about the application of this mental model is that it carries over the same actions one would take when using a file cabinet: users swipe each file upward and the screen fills with content from that file. From there users can navigate within the “file”.

Evernote app

Conclusion

Designing a mobile app entails infinite cycles of iteration. What these examples seek to demonstrate are successful executions of a specific mobile application feature. Grounding their design from the user’s perspective is what gives these apps a soul.

Ruben Harutyunyan

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