Design: Using mobile web apps has to be easy

Doing something just because it works is a common bad habit in development. Especially on smartphones, there are many technical possibilities. But do not forget that the user of your mobile website likes to have it easy. What exactly that means, you will learn in the following article.

It is a perspective that is less common as a designer: Could there be any among the technically available interaction methods that the user does not use at all?want?

Exactly this question clarifies the consulting company Change Sciences, with some surprising results. With the help of smaller (up to 20 participants) and larger (up to 100 participants) studies, the researchers tackled the subject of mobile use in a structured way.

For theresponsive webdesignand also for the native app design are solid recommendations, which you should heed, if you also want to attract mobile users as customers.

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Avoid unnecessary gestures

Change Sciences found that mobile users are primarilyon three gesturesand, if possible, avoid using other interaction methods. In particular, they wantNotbe confronted with further control actions invented by the web-app developer innovatively.

The most important gestures are accordinglyScrolling, swiping and tapping, The scroll gesture is thebest known and most used actionat all. According to Change Sciences, 94 percent of users use this action more than three times in a session of at least ten minutes. Scrolling is familiar from the desktop and mouse controls. Therefore, the gesture belongs to the basic equipment of the knowledge of every Internet user.


One-handed operation is still very popular with smartphone users. (Photo: Pixabay)

Swipeuser also no longer presents problems. Most people try the gesture at the top of the screen, regardless of whether visual cues, such as arrows, suggest the experiment. At other points on the screen, on the other hand, visual cues are needed to get users to swipe.

Thegropeis familiar to users, but is not one of the preferred interaction options. Unlike clicking on the desktop, users quickly lose patience while tapping.

Pinch-Zoomingis one of the actions the user avoids when he can. So there is nothing to force him to do this kind of service. In the responsive design you can easily make sure that zooming is not required. It has also been found that users spend quite a long time looking for an alternative before they finally zoom.

For the design, that means you get upas few gestures as possibleshould set. If you need to use actions that are not immediately catchy, you might want to include little animations that hint at usage.

Demand as little typing as possible

It’s no wonder. On mobile devicesyou do not like to type, Therefore, extensive input requirements should be avoided as it would merely cause the potential customer to cancel the entry and leave the page.

The aversion to typing is even so high that visitors are actually rather unpopularSocial LoginAccept via Facebook or other networks, just so you do not have to type.


Messenger services are increasingly being used for speech rather than writing. (Illustration: Pixabay)

For the design, that means you want it as much as possiblecompletely refrain from typingshould. If this is not possible, make sure you have at least as few input fields as possible.

Use only clear icons

Icons are one of theFavorite Toystoday’s designer. This can already be recognized by the unmanageable variety of download symbol sets in the worldwide network. Hardly a day goes by without at least two new pictogram collections coming onto the market.


Icons are too ambiguous too often. (Photo: Pixabay)

In the sense of the user that is not. Because this isnot at all interestedto decipher the fiftieth most chic variant of the search icon. Change Sciences found that with rates in excess of 90 percent, only thetriangle(Play) and thatX(Close) be understood very clearly. As unclear in the studies also in designer circles very popularHamburger Iconproved.

Navigation does not belong to the end of the screen

It’s a good idea at first glance: holding the smartphone with one hand is the easiest waythe lower areas of the screen, So it would have to be logical to arrange the navigation there. However, research shows that usersalways upsearch for navigation and tend to menus arranged belowto ignore.

This circumstance will also have to do with the socialization of the common computer user, because since theIntroduction of the operating system Windowswere navigations aka control panels always located at the top of the screen. The last known software with menus below was the good old Microsoft Word 5. With the escape key you came into the menu. No dare would do that today, at that time it was the market leader.

Do not give up a back button

While surfing the desktop belongs theBack buttonwho always brings us a step back, toothe most important controls, Generations of developers have been trying in vain to dissuade users from this undesirable behavior, with moderate success. It is therefore advisable to bow to the dictates of the crowd and always provide ways in which users can take this one step backward.

Succeededthe swipe feature on iOS, Here, users swipe right to the previous screen. On Android, it has to be the only arrow icon. Apart from half-baked gesture implementations on Google’s OS.

In both cases, you should at least on an independent solution, such asa back arrowin the upper screen area, do not dispense. Consider the OS’s own solutions rather than additional options.

Further insights from the Change Sciences team

  • multitaskingdoes not take place on mobile devices. The newer approaches to represent and use multiple apps side by side are useless for the small screen. It is only on larger displays that users place several applications next to each other (in order to use them one at a time).
  • It’s completely different than it is on desktop devicessoundestablished on mobile devices as a feedback method and is even expected. Who does not know the classic Zisch-Plop in the “Pull to Refresh”?
  • The demarcation of First and Second Screen blurred. When used as so-called“Second Screen”In television, for example, the use of the smartphone, which was actually thought of as a second screen, now predominates.
  • Users expect one on mobile devicesbetter user experienceas on desktop devices. This is not least due to the fact that websites and apps for the small screen have to be much more economical. This makes them seem clearer, less cluttered. And thatless space for advertisingis also not noted without benevolence.

Sources to read on:

  • Organizing Mobile | Luke Wroblewski
  • Discover how people really use the mobile web | Creative Bloq
  • How to Design for Mobile UX | Marc Schenker
  • Mobile vs Desktop: 13 Essential User Behaviors | Madalina Lambrea
  • Motivating Users: Behavioral Psychology in Mobile Design | Worry Free Labs
  • 10 mobile behaviors and how to design for them | Pamela Pavliscak

(The post first appeared in the summer of 2016 and has been kept up to date since then, with the last update in June 2019.)