How to Improve Mobile UX: 11 Effective Strategies
Why You Must Focus on Mobile Users
You have a mobile-friendly website, don’t you? Do you keep it updated with relevant content and follow the latest SEO guidelines? Of course, you do! And I bet it provides a great user experience on your desktop or laptop.
But does it convert on mobile devices? As mobile internet usage has exploded over the years, your mobile user experience (or Mobile UX) should get as much attention as the user experience of your desktop website.
In 2022, up to 70 percent of web traffic comes from mobile devices.TechJury
Do you know how to improve mobile UX? Unfortunately, most mobile experiences suffer from poor UX for one simple reason: their creators failed to observe mobile UX design best practices, standards, and conventions.
As Google is increasingly rating your site based on your mobile version, improving your mobile user experience becomes even more crucial. In this post, I’d like to share 11 practical strategies to enhance your mobile website’s user experience (UX).
Although all things mentioned in this post also apply to tablets, I had smartphones in mind when writing this post. But, in 2022, you not only have to keep smartphones in mind as many other devices can consume your content. Some of you may even read this post on your smartwatch.
How to Improve Mobile UX
1. Use a Task-Based Design
Question: What is the primary reason for users to visit your website?
Design your mobile website and its structure with the user in mind — while not forgetting about mobile SEO. Your visitor uses their mobile phone. Maybe they are on their way to whatever and need to check something on your website. What could that be? Think a moment about the things visitors do on your website (check Google Analytics, use common sense about your business or conduct proper testing). Then, decide on top tasks for your mobile website.
Top tasks are the small set of tasks (usually less than ten, often less than five) most important for your visitors. These are the essential tasks that users expect to perform on your site. Optimize your mobile site so that these tasks are accessible with the most ease possible.
The primary purpose of your website is to help visitors get things done. If someone finds your website and starts browsing it, make sure they can easily find and complete what they want to do. There are probably loads of apps on their mobile phone that they are used to using. Being on a mobile device might make it harder for the user to focus. Distractions are everywhere, not just on the phone. Design your mobile UX to ensure they get things done before switching to other apps instead.
2. Keep It Simple
You might think your desktop site looks fantastic with hero images and huge text. But on your mobile website, users will perceive the effect differently. There will be less focus. Your website doesn’t have to be black and white only, but a simple white background, black letters, and one or perhaps two supporting colors are enough for a better mobile UX.
Ensure that your mobile site and desktop site offer the same user experience. Consistency goes for the content and should also apply to the design. Plus, today, when evaluating your site, you should always look at it from a mobile-first perspective. So, should you ever start a redesign project for your site — make sure it is mobile-first.
3. Optimize for Speed
Keeping your mobile site as simple as possible will also help you improve page load speed on mobile devices. Page speed is a significant contributor to a mobile user experience. There are many tools to check site speed. Often, there are several things you can do to optimize page speed.
Site speed is also a hot topic at Google. In 2021 the search engine announced a new set of metrics called the Core Web Vitals. These metrics give Google insights for a new ranking factor: Page Experience. In 2022, users will judge mobile sites by the experience they offer users. And, you guessed it, site speed is one of those factors.
One of the easiest and most effective things you can do is optimize your images for SEO and user experience. There are several tools to help you with that. I like Imagify, but Smush and Short Pixel are viable alternatives.
Of course, you should also use premium hosting, as that often turns out to be a quick win for many sites.
4. Use Clickable Buttons
It’s so obvious, yet still a cause for concern. Visitors browse mobile websites using fingers and thumbs, and buttons don’t always provide enough space to hit them quickly. You can find this under Accessible Tap Targets in Google’s developer documentation. And we need to be able to click elements with that thumb.
In that Google article linked above, you can find numbers for that tap target:
A minimum recommended touch target size is around 48 device-independent pixels on a site with a correctly set mobile viewport. For example, while an icon may only have a width and height of 24px, you can use additional padding to bring the tap target size up to 48px. The 48×48 pixel area corresponds to around 9mm, which is about the size of a person’s finger pad area.
In addition, the usability experts at Nielsen found that touch targets on mobile should have a rendered size of at least 1 cm x 1 cm to prevent errors and frustration. Related to button hit areas are touch elements that are often too close together — something Nielsen also described in that research article. For example, it isn’t beneficial to click a link and end up somewhere else because the link next to it is too close to the link you wanted.
5. Focus on the Mobile Thumb Zone
As screen size increased, the term “mobile thumb zone” suddenly became crucial for the designer vernacular. Most people hold their mobile devices single-handedly and use their thumb to navigate the site.
Naturally, the mobile user interface must provide the majority of clickable elements and important navigation buttons within the comfortable reach of the thumb. Hence, this comfortably reachable zone around the user’s thumb is considered the mobile thumb zone.
That means you need to optimize your mobile site experience for the “thumb zone” — the area of a phone’s screen that can be easily accessed with the thumb when a person holds their phone with one hand.
In essence, put primary interactions front and center (easy-to-reach areas of the screen) and less important ones at the top and bottom screen edges. Keep in mind that as screen size increases the thumb zone decreases.
6. Add a Simple Menu and Search Option
One of the main elements of mobile UX is search. You have to be able to search at a moment’s notice. So a search option should always be available when reading a page when clicking to another. The thing is that although we strive to present the most straightforward website possible, there will always be elements that just don’t fit in that easily. So for all that content, it would be good to use a mobile search option.
If you are a real estate broker or sell clothes online, that search option might as well be the essential element on your mobile homepage. So please show that search option in the content area in that case, and make it available via the menu bar on other pages.
One more thing about mobile UX related to search: having the option is step one. Make sure your internal search result pages look fantastic as well. The results should be ordered on relevancy, for instance, desktop and mobile. Ensure individual results can be distinguished, so improve the separation of results.
7. Utilize Visual Separators
That lack of separation doesn’t mean you should use all kinds of dividers on your mobile website. Dividers take up space, and that will have a negative influence on mobile UX instead.
Think of ways to style elements so they all look like separate sections, without the need for a divider. Use borders, white space, headings, etc. You can do many things to improve mobile UX without adding line elements that take up space. Of course, there is no rule against using them. Just make sure they fit in and don’t distract users from performing their tasks.
8. Use Short Forms
As on your desktop website, your mobile site could or should aim for conversion. For example, visitors intend to buy products or get a quote for your services. Subscribing to your newsletter or simply filling out a contact form are all actions that require user input. On a mobile phone, multi-page forms ruin the mobile UX. Users might fill these out, but it is asking a lot. Frankly, I am not very fond of multi-page forms on desktops or laptops.
You want to keep forms as short as possible for optimal mobile UX. Remove all the things you want to ask but don’t need:
- Newsletter? Just the e-mail address (with a <input type=”email”> input field).
- Quote? Last name and e-mail address.
- Shop? Delivery, invoice, and e-mail address. Bonus points for an option to copy the delivery address to the invoice address.
Do make sure you are following the GDPR guidelines, though!
9. Limit Font Sizes
Typography can make or break a mobile website. Not only is the type of font you pick of importance, but the sizes of those fonts as well. Unfortunately, you can’t just use all the desktop font sizes on your mobile website. There are two reasons for that:
- The mobile screen size. You don’t want the title to fill the screen; you want to make sure the article starts within the first view of the page. Neither do you want the base font (like your paragraph font) to be too small to read without having to pinch and zoom.
- Mobile UX suffers when using more than three font sizes. The size differences will be much more visible. You should limit the number of font sizes to two, maybe three.
Google’s mobile-friendly tests even check if you use the recommended font sizes. Of course, this mostly goes for the body font, but still.
10. Limit Ads and Pop-ups
Many sites use ads to make a little money, and that’s fine. But you shouldn’t scare the user with intrusive pop-ups and an abundance of third-party ads. You don’t respect the user when the first thing you let them experience is a sign-up form for your newsletter. Make sure that your primary content loads before introducing your ads and CTAs.
Plus, keep ads tasteful and toned down. You are looking to build a connection and form a relationship with a user, and that doesn’t happen when you flash BUY MY STUFF NOW in their face the second they get on your mobile site. Overly aggressive advertising creates a bad user experience.
11. Test your Mobile UX. Repeat!
When serving a mobile website to your visitors, you need to test every change on your desktop site and the mobile version of your site. That is the only way to make sure your mobile website is always up-to-date. So make sure to test your mobile site again and again.
The Benefits of Improving Mobile UX
The mobile age is upon us and improving UX on mobile devices is as important as improving it for desktop users. Of course, it requires a lot of work, but the end benefits of happier users, improved search rankings, and increased revenue make it all worthwhile.
However, improving mobile UX is not about making things the same or even similar-looking. It’s about making things work better and lowering the barriers to adoption. Once mastering the best practices, designers and developers can innovate and branch out to create unique designs that bend or break the rules.
Providing the best possible mobile user experience is the best way to encourage site visitors that your company is, in fact, the right choice.
Most of the trends and tips I have discussed here are easy to implement and don’t require a lot of resources or effort, while some may require a more thorough redesign.
By improving mobile UX, you’re making a clear statement that you care about the kind of experience users have with your business, and this is the best brand message you can convey. We are here to help!
Are You Unsure How to Improve Mobile UX?
Improving mobile UX is critical to provide the best possible user experience. Usability is essential if you’re going to attract and engage the ever more demanding mobile consumer.
If you are unsure how improving mobile UX benefits your business or product brand, we can help! Our team will listen to your concerns, evaluate your needs, and develop a list of things you need to improve mobile UX and usability.
Did You Improve Mobile UX on Your Website?
Did you try out any of my suggestions for improving mobile UX? Which ones did you try out, and what kind of results did you achieve? Do you have any other tips or ideas on how to improve mobile UX?
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