Top 8 Mobile Usability Issues To Avoid Top 8 Mobile Usability Issues To Avoid

Top 8 Mobile Usability Issues To Avoid

  • date-ic 07 Dec 2021
  • time-ic 5 minutes read

With more people using phones to access services and make purchases, it figures that mobile apps need to be increasingly user-friendly. People are now accustomed to accessing what they need on their phone quickly and easily. If your website isn’t optimised for mobile, you’re going to risk losing customers to a competitor business with an easier-to-use site.

So, what are the mistakes we commonly see when it comes to setting up websites for mobile? Here, we run you through the top 8 mobile usability issues we encounter, and how to fix these problems before they lose you precious business.

Problem 1 – You didn’t design for mobile

Designing a website for mobile devices is different to designing for desktop. For starters, a desktop screen has a lot more real estate to play with, whereas a mobile screen can only fit so much in. Users also interact with the devices differently, with mobile relying far more on touch. Hence, it’s imperative to optimise your website for mobile users, and to design your site to be compatible with whatever device your customer is likely to be using.

One of the most common usability problems we see is that the website has not been optimised for mobile. So, for best results, factor mobile design into your budget in the first instance, including a separate design budget for both Android and iOS, as each will need a different treatment.

Problem 2 – Your site has errors

Too often we see sites that aren’t checked for errors when they’re launched, and aren’t continually monitored. Links break, product information gets updated and so on. If you don’t keep on top of ensuring your site content is accurate, and that forms and buttons work correctly, it reflects poorly on your brand, and you lose customer trust. You don’t want to give customers the opportunity to question the quality of the service or product you offer, and if your site is a shambles, they may wonder whether it’s a good idea to choose you.

It’s not enough to wait for an error message to come through before you check your site for functionality. And if you’re relying on your users to inform you of a site error, you might not hear a thing (it’s unlikely visitors will spend the time notifying you). So it’s important to fix mobile usability issues before they become a problem.

To fix this usability problem, run tests on all the elements on the page before you launch; regularly check that they work on an ongoing basis; and ensure any updates to your site content are also checked.

If you don’t have time to check for errors yourself, consider employing a reputable user testing agency to do it for you. Helping businesses fix mobile usability issues is their bread and butter, after all.

Problem 3 – You’re trying to fit too much in

Mobile phone screens are generally small, so it’s important to fit in only the most important features, and leave the rest. This means you need to really question every image, icon, animation, button, and piece of written content you have, and if it’s not vital for the user, let it go.

From a design perspective, this is a real positive, as it’s easier for the eye to see information if it’s surrounded by white space, than it is if the screen is clogged with bits and pieces.

Consider clickable elements
Think also about your clickable elements. Again, you have to think about ease of use, and that if clickable elements are too close together, people may struggle to click on what they want. If they click the wrong thing because it was too hard to select the right thing, they’ll head down the wrong path, and be frustrated. If this happens too many times, prepare to be abandoned. So it’s super important to make sure any clickable elements have sufficient space to be comfortably clicked on by your users (even those with big fingers).

Fix- Retain plenty of space between different clickable elements, so people can comfortably click on what they need.

Reign in the rambling
Think about your written content. When people are researching products online, do they want to read much? Not really. Instead, they want to scan for essential points of information, and read as little as possible.

So no matter how pretty your wording, it’s better to keep wording slim and direct. Include only what the user needs to know and relevant next steps. Design for scannability and don’t test your users’ patience by waxing lyrical.

Consider how you could replace written content with an image or a button instead.

Progressive disclosure helps
One way of reducing content is progressively disclosing information to your reader. Rather than seeing every feature or piece of content upfront, allow them the control to open up more content if they need it. Be wary, though, of using this as a tactic for opening more pages, and loading ads. Users are savvy, and if they get a whiff that you’ve just got them there to see ads, they might just leave the site. Also, make sure you have your most important content in the first section, before they open up further information.

Note that some sites will ask a user to read through, scroll through, and open up new sections a great deal, before they arrive at information on pricing. Again, be wary of burying key content in this way. Whilst you may want to spend a bit of time drawing your customer in before you hit them with the pricing, it’s probably better to not waste too much of their time if they’re not likely to buy from you at that pricing.

Prioritise content
Make sure you understand what the customer needs to achieve, and situate the most important tasks early on your page. Try to avoid your user doing too much scrolling.

How do you know what to prioritise? You need to identify your customer’s needs at each step of their journey, ideally by using some form of user testing. Consider what your customer needs to achieve and at how many steps it takes to get them to succeed. The fewer steps the better, as users easily lose patience. If you don’t want to do it yourself, this is what a user testing agency is there for.

Problem 4 – Tricky navigation

Users are accustomed to certain conventions when it comes to easily navigating their way around online. Tried and true methods make it easy for them, so it’s important to avoid being clever for the sake of it. If your ‘new and improved’ structure doesn’t help your user get their end result quickly, (or makes them have to think too much), it’s best avoided.

Users want to find what they need as fast as possible. Navigation should be intuitive and predictable, and users should know where they are at all steps in the journey. This is also important given that different users have different abilities, and different levels of experience in using technology.

Fix- Keep it simple, using hamburger menus, sidebars, footer menus as called for, and symbols for search and social menu options. For more information on successful web navigation, see Clear navigation paths to increase conversion rates.

Problem 5 – Insufficient feedback for the user

It’s a great idea to help the user know where they are in their journey. You can provide feedback in different ways, whether it be visual, audio or via vibration (haptic feedback). In a similar vein, help options in form-fields are useful for the user journey, as they are immediately visible, and don’t send the user off to find assistance, and potentially lose steam in their journey. Anything that draws them away, gives them the opportunity to change their mind about their query or purchase.

Problem 6 – Too much work for the user

Sometimes you need to ask your customer to do a bit of work. It’s unavoidable, especially if you need them to input their address to send them a product, or give credit card details for making a payment.

So, if you can invest in tools that give the customer the option of reducing the amount of data they need to input, do that. For example, if your app is an ecommerce app, and there’s the option of scanning a credit card rather than your customer inputting all the digits on their card (and potentially making errors), use the technology available.

There are many options out there. A digital design agency or user testing agency will be able to direct you to the most applicable tool for your business, or you can research it yourself. See our article on the 8 do’s and don’t of online checkouts.

It’s also a good idea to offer auto-complete suggestions (Google’s Place Autocomplete tool for example), and reuse previously entered data if possible.

Problem 7 – You ignored Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)

These guidelines exist for good reason. So many people use mobile phones, and some have physical limitations. The WCAGs give you suggestions on:

• Using sufficient colour contrast- some low contrast is difficult to read in certain light. Black writing will always be easier to read against a white background, than vice versa.

• Providing text alternatives for non-text content, so that it can be changed into forms people can understand, such as large print, braille, speech, symbols or simpler language.

• Making all functionality available from a keyboard.

• Providing ways to help users navigate, find content, and determine where they are.

• Making web pages appear and operate in predictable ways.

• Providing help options that assist users to avoid and correct mistakes.

• Ensuring content is robust enough that it can be interpreted reliably by a wide variety of user agents, including assistive technologies. Make content compatible with assisted technologies.

Problem 8 – Annoying extras

There are a few things that could be placed in the ‘annoying extras’ basket. In some cases, these might be very well designed and executed features, but if they aren’t essential to the user journey, they can often be set aside. Be it a brilliant animation, a video or music that auto-plays without the user expecting it (they might not want everyone around them on the bus to hear it), or a push notification the user doesn’t need.

Think about any ‘extras’ you’re employing, and then consider giving the user the option of turning them on/off themselves, or ditching them altogether.

In Summary…

A number of usability problems can occur if you don’t invest serious consideration and resources into optimising your website for mobile users. But if you keep some basic design principles in mind, understand your user’s journey, and keep WCAG in mind, you can create a user-friendly mobile site for your customers. If you need help with user testing, contact TestMate to discuss a user test for your business.


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