Seven Key Mobile Usability Guidelines You Need to Implement Now
Mobile technology is big business, and it is important to design applications that fit the form factors for various mobile devices. Marta Rauch guides us through the seven important mobile usability guidelines that technical communicators must be aware of when designing for operating systems such as Android and iOS.
The mobile application industry is currently around $10 billion and expected to increase to $100 billion in 2015. When there is a huge amount of money involved, products will be made to take advantage of the marketplace.
Marta’s seven key requirements for mobile user assistance (UA) are: 1) gather data about mobile users and their tasks; 2) define a mobile UA strategy; 3) adopt mobile style guidelines; 4) devise working prototypes; 5) use built-in mobile accessibility; 6) test applications on mobile devices; and 7) work with mobile translators. These requirements help technical communicators understand how to develop effective mobile applications. For example, asking questions such as who is your target user, what tasks do they need to accomplish, and what kind of devices do they use? Part of the strategy is to define mobile usability and accessibility in terms of messages, content, and formats. In addition to creating content for various mobile devices, keep in mind the size of the screen, device limitations, and touch gestures.
Each operating system is different enough that a one-size-fits-all approach for mobile usability may not offer users the best experience. Rauch suggests that technical communicators be aware of user interface differences between Android and iOS. These subtle differences can significantly affect how a user operates his or her phone. To illustrate, she shows slides with different layout options for iOS and Android.
Toward the end of her slides she suggests various titles and websites for more information about designing for mobile devices, such as:
Developing User Assistance for Mobile Apps – Joe Welinske
Tapworthy: Designing Great iPhone Apps – Josh Clark
Mobile First – Luke Wrobleski
eBooks 101 – Ann Rockley, Charles Cooper
UIE.com – Jared Spool
The major key points to take away are:
- Research user needs
- Devise working prototypes
- Test application usability
- Create content designed for mobile devices
- Design applications to make use of different screen sizes and layouts
Rauch’s presentation is extremely rich with enough valuable information that it may be overwhelming to take away the key points—there is much to understand about mobile usability guides. Designing a great mobile application may seem complicated; however, she shares some of the greatest advice and resources to ensure that technical communicators can provide mobile users with a pleasant experience when using their smart phones.