Mobile usability principles

Posted: Friday 23rd September 2011 in eCommerce Technology, Retail Strategy, Thought Leadership.

Place buttons where a thumb can easily reach them

Steve Krug’s first law of usability is “Don’t Make Me Think” by which he means don’t force people to think unnecessarily when using your website. The sentiment holds true when building a mobile site or app too. Here are some top tips for designing for mobile:

Don’t re-invent the wheel

Keep it simple and use visual cues people are already familiar with to ensure users don’t have to think.

Thumbs rule on mobile

Think about the way you wrap your fingers around a phone and use it. Your thumbs do a lot of the work, so big and well spaced on-screen buttons are essential. Apple recommends a minimum of 44×44 pixels for a button.

Comfort Zone

Most users hold a phone with their right hand and there’s an area of the screen that’s not easy to reach – or is obstructed by your thumb. Don’t put key action buttons or important information in this area, where it could get lost.

Device neutrality

Understand the target demographics of your audience and research the devices they use. Use web analytics as a guide to see what mobile devices are currently popular, but future proof it as mobile technology is evolving rapidly.

Landscape vs Portrait

Understand what screen resolutions you’re designing for and remember a mobile works in both landscape and portrait modes. Are you happy for your screen to wrap the content? Or do you need to produce two wireframes: one for the landscape view and one for the portrait.

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