Five things definitely NOT to do when it comes to UX on mobile

Since the infamous ‘mobilegeddon’ – the latest update from Google that means websites are now penalised for failing to be mobile friendly – many businesses have been rushing to improve the experience of their mobile website for their users, and avoid being penalised in SERPS (search engine results page).

With a lot of information out there about all of the things you can be doing to make a user’s journey better, what about the things that you really should be avoiding?

Below are the top five things NOT to do when it comes to UX on mobile:

1. Treat your mobile and desktop sites the same

Mobile and tablet devices rely on touch or voice, not a mouse or keyboard like a desktop, so why would you treat these two entities the same?

Consider the device and its screen size. A user on a mobile is likely to be on the move, and elements such as lighting conditions could vary. Simple things like ensuring your user interface has a sufficient colour contrast will make your site much easier to read on the go.

Interaction designs should also be completely different when it comes to a site on mobile and one on desktop. Hover tools, for example, aren’t an option on mobile or tablet, which is one of the biggest differences between these two technologies. Swipe gestures should be considered, too. On mobile or tablet, users tend to swipe with their finger, but on desktop an arrow or button needs to be clicked. You can click and drag on a desktop if you wish, but it’s not common. Bearing these elements in mind when designing your mobile site can only improve a user’s experience of it.

2. Create small target/touch areas

Having touch and target areas smaller than the smallest average fingers can be incredibly frustrating for a user, and could lead them to abandon your site early on if they can’t use it properly.

The recommended range for touch targets is 7-10mm, so it’s best to keep in line with this to avoid users leaving your site before they’ve converted.

3. Not using HTML5 form inputs

Forms on any site are key to conversions, so the process should be made as easy as possible. Using HTML5 form inputs will generate an appropriate keyboard on certain devices.

For instance, selecting email as the input will populate the ‘@’ button ensuring it’s easily accessible. The majority of internet browsers now support HTML5 so it’s best that you start incorporating this as soon as you can if you haven’t already. HTML5 is also backed by Google, so you can’t go wrong by integrating this into your website.

4. Think all users are experts

Although tempting, it’s best to avoid following all trends. The burger icon for example – the three dashes often found on mobile sites where the menu drops down from – is increasingly popular, but those inexperienced in mobile internet might struggle to find the menu to begin with.

To make your website easy to use for the majority, it’s best to keep things as simple as possible to ensure ease of use.

5. Think all users expect the same from your mobile site

If you have developed a native app, it’s really important that you don’t assume users are looking for the same from a mobile site. Customers that are already invested in your brand might download, and sometimes even pay for, your native app - and these apps often focus on making a personal experience for each user.

For example, a photo-printing retailer app can access a device’s camera to download the images for printing. However, mobile sites don’t have this function, and often those using your mobile site are just browsing anyway, so a more straightforward experience is key.

It can sound a little complicated to get UX on mobile right, and it can be. But there’s no point in investing a lot of resource into something that is difficult to use, as it will radically reduce chances of conversions. Taking these five things into consideration when designing – or redesigning – a mobile site should put you in good stead. And teamed with testing and customer feedback, it’s easier to make tweaks at a later stage.

Mobile websites should always be treated as a work in progress, and amendments made regularly to keep them fresh, updated, and in-line with user needs.

Chris Bush, head of user experience (UX) at Sigma