User experience on mobile applications: Challenges & Solutions
A good user experience on mobile applications is a real challenge.
Smartphones have revolutionized the way we interact with technology.
As a result, mobile applications have become central to our daily lives, facilitating a wide range of tasks: from communication to managing our finances.
However, despite their ubiquity, the user experience (UX) on mobile apps is not always as satisfying as expected. In this article, we explore why it can sometimes leave something to be desired, and how publishers can tackle these challenges.
User experience challenges on mobile applications
Device and platform diversity
One of the main reasons behind user experience problems on mobile applications is the diversity of devices and operating systems. Each device has its own screen size, resolution, and hardware capabilities. And each operating system (iOS, Android, etc.) has its own design guidelines. This makes it difficult for developers to create a seamless experience across all devices. There are many points of vigilance: layout, readability, and functionality issues.
Developers must continually test what they deliver, considering different pixel densities and screen resolutions. While these tests guarantee an optimal experience, whatever the device, they consume a great deal of team time.
They must carry out cross-platform developments, and this requires mastery of different languages (Java or Kotlin for Android, Swift or Objective-C for iOS) or the use of cross-platform application development frameworks (such as React Native, Flutter, Xamarin…).
Intuitive navigation is essential for a fluid user experience. It is often quite different from the web experience. However, many mobile applications feature complex navigation schemes, which can frustrate users.
And all publishers can experience this. In particular, Google Wave, which disappeared in 2010, was criticized by many users who complained about the application’s “reduced maneuverability”. This was certainly not the only reason for Google Wave’s demise, but the lack of fluidity in navigation was a contributing factor.
- Poorly designed drop-down menus,
- ambiguous icons,
- non-logical menu structures,
make it difficult to discover features.
Users want an intuitive and efficient experience, and when this is lacking, their engagement can decline.
Relationship to time (latency and development)
Today’s users are used to fast navigation and instantaneous response times. Applications that take too long to load or respond to interactions can quickly turn users off. The result: a drop in engagement and even uninstallations.
But by the same token, they have become accustomed to the fact that everything is speeding up. And requirements are no longer the same for patches or upgrades to mobile applications.
Limited size, limited experience
Even if hardware has evolved dramatically, let’s face it, screen size is still a problem for the application experience. It imposes unique constraints on designers and developers.
Content must be optimized to fit into tight spaces without compromising legibility and user-friendliness. Interactive elements such as buttons and links must be large enough to be easily clicked. Here again, choices must be made about what to display and what not to display.
However, this can sometimes result in a truncated user experience. Complex steps in a process, such as creating an account or filling out a detailed form, should be shortened.
This compromises the quality of the experience and the accuracy of the information collected.
Web and mobile experiences are most often designed separately. Indeed, for legitimate reasons (notably those mentioned above), the user journey is redesigned, the technologies are not the same, nor are the teams.
And yet, there is often an interest in capitalizing on the application’s usage knowledge. At the end of the day, it’s all about the same product. Users have the same needs, even if their usage may differ precisely because of the medium.
And a user accustomed to desktop access will probably expect to find the same points of reference on the mobile application. To be able to perform the same actions, to rely on the same graphic marks…
6 ways to improve the user experience on mobile applications
- Responsive and adaptive design: Adopt a responsive and adaptive design approach to ensure that the app displays correctly on a variety of devices and screen sizes.
- Prioritize navigation: Design navigation to be simple and intuitive. Users must be able to access key functionalities with just a few clicks. This means making choices: not always porting all functionalities to the mobile application.
- Optimize performance: Optimize application performance by reducing loading times and avoiding “greedy” applications.
- User testing and feedback: Discipline yourself when it comes to testing and collecting user feedback. User feedback is invaluable in identifying weak points in the experience. Regular user testing helps to spot problems and resolve them quickly.
- Data analysis: Analyze application usage data. This can provide information on where users are experiencing problems, or what they are not using. This type of study helps developers target improvements.
- Implementing another modality on mobile: Integrating a conversational application interface.
The most natural user experience on mobile: conversation
All users, in both their professional and personal lives, are used to using their mobiles to exchange text messages.
They already have MS Teams, Slack or Google applications installed. They’ve been sending text messages for years and make massive use of other applications like Facebook Messenger or Whatsapp.
Conversation with other people via text or voice messaging is already ingrained in their practices.
Using these messaging systems as a new interface to “converse” with other software doesn’t require much effort on the part of users.
And this applies to all application areas (accounting, human resources, project management, reservation systems, etc.).
Cédric O, former Secretary of State in charge of digital, even compares conversational app access, in a recent post about Mistral AI, to an extremely efficient “concierge”.
And when you think about it, defining the possible interactions with a given application is pretty natural too.
What do you want to allow?
- “I want my users to be able to access my knowledge base”.
- “Employees must be able to carry out transactions”.
- “Date or event-based notifications would be useful”.
Innovating for intuitive, efficient interfaces
Although mobile applications have transformed the way we interact with technology, they are showing their limitations when it comes to user experience. Even when adopting user-centered design and development practices, they require considerable energy from an often already busy team.
While these limitations may seem restrictive, they also offer an opportunity to stimulate innovation. They enable us to create innovative solutions for mobile users. Understanding these challenges is crucial to shaping design strategies that consider the particularities of the mobile user experience.
And in this sense, innovating by offering an intuitive, easy-to-maintain interface becomes a matter of course.
This helps minimize frustration and maximize usability.
Agora Software deploys conversational application interfaces, including mobile applications, to enhance the user experience of applications and platforms. We create rich, multilingual and omnichannel interactions with all your users.
Do you have a conversational interface project?
Let’s talk: firstname.lastname@example.org
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