Do you own a mobile phone?toothbrush_kitty

Do you own a toothbrush?

Surprisingly enough more people would answer yes to the first question. About 80% of the world’s population now owns a mobile phone and with a population of 7 billion, let’s call that 4.8 billion mobile phone owners versus 4.2 billion toothbrush owners. As a whole, we are more likely to look up a dental hygienist on a mobile device than actually brush our teeth. Technically and hygienically speaking, it’s no secret that mobile is important which brings us to Part II of the Top Mobile Mistakes series.

Pay Attention to Touch indexfinger-thumb

Touchscreen dominates mobile devices. Consider this fact and design your website to be touched.  A click with a mouse is a much smaller target than a tap with a finger so have a larger target in mind when integrating with mobile devices. Adult finger sizes range between 16mm and 20mm wide but we can really tap targets that are much smaller. Each keyboard letter is about 5mm in size with 2mm of space in between, though do remember how much you rely on auto-correct to fix your mistakes. Size really does matter when trying to prevent user error. Targets 5mm in size have about a 3% error rate while targets sizing 9mm drop to about 0.5% user error rate (Smashing Magazine). It’s your call but anything smaller than 5mm will most likely hurt you rather than help you. Also consider reducing the number of targets in general. Trying to shove too much information on a tiny screen can often exude the feeling of congestion. Take a look at physical dimension to measure targets instead of pixel size. This will ultimately simplify the layout providing less confusion giving users room to breathe.

No Instruction Needed Navigation

beta_iOS7Visual cues are essential on mobile websites and applications. The early days of image heavy navigation with no textual labels have been perfected so much that we now have babies using iPads better than some adults. Site navigation should adhere to what we consider common sense with no training needed. Usability nightmares containing small text will only spawn headaches from too much eye squinting, most likely leaving you with a high bounce rate and limited returning users. Mobile devices leave little room to cram textual labels anyway.

Providing intuitive, simple gestures with an easy user interface should be a requirement for mobile. For instance, Apple’s iOS 7 introduced the lock screen with the ‘Slide to Unlock’ bar at the bottom, which originally contained an upward arrow up rather than left to right arrow. This ended up confusing users into thinking they should slide up because intuitively that’s what the touchscreen asked them to do. Subsequently, Apple ended up changing it in the final release of the operating system (BGR). This however is a great example of why visual cues are essential. A simple gesture such as an arrow can change the user’s mobile experience. So if a user is expected to perform a specific action be sure to have clear visual hints indicating what the user should expect once the action is performed.

Ignoring the Fold CaptureAbovetheFold

Around 30% of mobile shoppers will abandon a transaction if the experience is not optimized for mobile. Consumers expect the buying process to be easy or they’ll go somewhere like Amazon that provides one-click convenience. The growth in sales on smart phones is quickly surpassing PCs making it that much more important to make the ‘Call to Action’ button visible. Purchasing ultimately relies on a user’s motivation, but similar to site navigation, refining the purpose down to a single path you’d like a user to take will by default translate to a higher conversion. Once again we see a trend in intuitive design. The above the fold rule should be applied to mobile conversion tools mostly. This can be difficult with so many different sizes and resolutions so be sure to test various target sizes and colors as well. An easy buying path is your best bet with actions connected to revenue and eliminating scrolling is likely to perform better.

As noted in this two part series, improvements with the mobile web is a work in progress. Perhaps one day we will have smart sites that optimize themselves based off user interaction. Until then we must experiment with customer behavior to figure out the bugs and constantly work to improve our technology.