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Best practices for prototyping mobile user experience

Best practices for prototyping mobile user experience

5 essentials to check off your list of mobile prototyping best practices. Straight from the experts at Justinmind. Ready, set, go!

The mobile industry is booming and the apps that we develop need to be built as quickly as possible with the highest level of accuracy, in order to ensure a great user experience. Interactive prototyping can help you to get your mobile app right, from very early on in the design process. In fact, we at Justinmind would go as far as to say that a prototype of your mobile UI design is a crucial component of your app’s overall creative process.

Read on to discover Justinmind’s best practices for creating seamless user experiences in mobile apps.

1. Focus on key user goals

User-centered design drives successful products, especially when it comes to mobile app design. You should always design with the user in mind to ensure that you end up with a product, app or service that really has the user’s best interests at heart.

But where does mobile prototyping come into this? Well, it’s simple: prototyping is at the heart of the iterative design process (read more about iterative prototyping here). Effective prototyping can reduce the risk factor, eliminate the need for re-work,  and save project resources. And when you work with real users early on in the design process, i.e. at the prototyping stage, you can reduce the chances of confusion and misunderstandings over which features should be included or let go. For instance, if we look at things from a UI and UX design standpoint, it’s always beneficial to involve real users so that you can realistically evaluate different design ideas and opinions. Likewise, the type of prototype you make, in terms of the level of fidelity, design detail, functionality, totally depends on the goals of your users. You could also try to integrate social login methods and create shortcuts whenever possible.

When prototyping for mobile, make use of defaults and auto-completes in order to save the user time and effort. With Justinmind, you can create interactive forms that interact with the user, for example, you can make them blank when a user fills them in a second time.

2. Think about what you are designing for

Imagine that you’ve got your desktop website up and running, and it’s perfect. So presumably you can just take your existing design and make it work on a mobile device, right? Wrong.

You cannot just squeeze an existing desktop design on to a mobile device and expect it to work. The differences between the two are extreme. For instance, there are different input methods (mouse Vs. touch), different screen sizes, different duration of use, different contexts of use etc. There’s so much to think about! As explained on Devsaran, when designing the user interface of your mobile app, “you should keep in mind that the app should be fully usable on a wide variety of devices and mobile operating systems“. Whether it’s “tweaking the media queries, JavaScript or the CSS“, you also need to focus on issues that arise from displaying an app on different types of mobile devices.

If working off of a desktop design, are you going to go responsive or adaptive? Responsive web design describes a website’s content and layout appropriately designed to fit the screen of given devices. This design type is achieved by using CSS media queries and HTML to resize, hide, shrink, enlarge, and/or move the content to make it look good on any screen. RWD features include fluid grids, flexible media, and breakpoints with a fluid layout between them. Adaptive web design describes content authored and layout designed for distribution across multiple channels, media, products and interfaces. This design is achieved through progressive enhancement, detecting the device, and static layouts based on breakpoints which don’t respond once they’re initially loaded.

This is where prototyping really comes in handy. With tools such as Justinmind, you can create workable responsive and adaptive prototypes so that all of your interactions can be thought out, on a variety of desktop and mobile devices.

Download Justinmind today to put these best practices into action!


3. Clean out that clutter

In any UI design, you should be thinking “Simplify, simplify, simplify”. Keep Things Simple, (Stupid!) and remember, it’s easy to create chaos but a hundred times more difficult to make sense of things. Consider the importance of understanding why users visit the sites and apps that they do, and cut unnecessary steps from your flow to make things easier for users.

This is particularly important in mobile web design, simply because we’re dealing with smaller screens with limited mobility. It’s important to get rid of anything on a mobile design that isn’t absolutely necessary. A basic user interface usually allows the user to perform several tasks in just a few simple steps, or clicks. By providing the user with digestible, bite-size chunks of information that are much more manageable than streams of text. Use colors effectively to keep your app’s interface as simple as possible – KISS! Additionally, minimize the need for typing by focusing on hand positions. Remember that when there is a need for typing, you always always always need to provide a keyboard – this may sound obvious, but how many times have you needed to type something into a mobile app and the keyboard hasn’t appeared? Think about it.

When testing things out in your prototypes, it’s great when you can keep things consistent. With Justinmind, you can use templates and masters in order to keep things consistent. Let’s say you want to change your header’s background color and the size of a button. If you created them as templates, you’d only have to make those changes once — all other instances of the template would be update automatically. This will make for a more streamlined and efficient prototyping design process.

4. Maximize user mobile experience

Take advantage of your knowledge of mobile capabilities to get the most out of your app.

Today’s mobile devices really are things of beauty, and intelligent too. Among the nifty features that we invariably find in modern mobile devices, we have GPS, a digital camera and microphone, and touch screen. In order to make the most of the app that will eventually be used on a mobile device, you need to be aware of the features available and use them to your advantage. But on top of this, ensure that you are aware of the types of user interface mobile operating systems. For example, designing for mobile requires an intimate knowledge of both iOS and Android platforms and elements – tabs on top for Android and on the bottom for iOS, for instance. It’s important to take into account each platform’s particular design styles, nuance and native UI controls when designing and developing for mobile user input.

The great thing about prototyping mobile is that you can create, customize and share assets, or widget libraries, to make your prototypes as realistic and functional as possible, and maximize the user experience from the beginning. With Justinmind, you can build life-like iOS, Android and Windows mobile device replicas with our extensive widget libraries. With the atomic elements we’ve used to build each component, you can even customize them to make them as personalized as you like.

5. Test on the actual device, always!

The greatest value of a prototyping mobile apps is being able to test on each device, gather detailed feedback from clients, stakeholders and potential users, and overcome knowledge gaps about your design. Essentially, it’s the best way to fail. Imagine diving straight into visual design or development, completing production and then testing out your app. But wait, what’s that? The client doesn’t like it? The user can’t use it? If you don’t start with a prototype, you don’t give yourself enough time to think about every possible scenery. As an app creator, it is an excellent idea to iterate the interface design through interactive prototyping so as to build apps that are fully engaging for users, and to retain user attention. With a realistic, high-fidelity prototype, you’re sure to get genuine feedback from your users. And don’t forget, with each successive iteration, valuable lessons will be learned and can be re-applied to your next design project.

With Justinmind, you can simulate your prototypes on web and mobile. And you can even auto-fit your content to really visualize how each design will be seen on each device!

Download Justinmind now and prototype beautiful mobile user experiences!download-justinmind-prototyping-tool-banner-1

Emily Grace Adiseshiah

About the Author

Emily is Marketing Content Editor at Justinmind

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