Things can get tricky when you have loads of data to present on a mobile platform. Here are a few tips to make your UX/UI designing experience a little easier
More companies are engaging users with mobile tools, realizing that applications and mobile interfaces are heavily relied on as productivity tools – in some cases more than desktop interfaces. This shift creates a challenge for companies with massive content and large datasets (not big data as it is commonly, and mistakenly, referred to) who want to create engaging user experiences (UX) and user interfaces (UI) on mobile platforms.
Based on my experience as a software engineer and serial entrepreneur currently working on projects in the tourism industry, I’ve come up with a list of what I consider best practices for firms facing similar challenges.
1. Characterize the UX/UI that fits your product
This is probably the step you should spend the most time on if you want to get the UX/UI right because it serves as the theoretical basis for what’s to follow. At this stage, you should think about your company’s business logic, get to know the UX/UI trends in your niche, and how they can be improved to increase user engagement. If we use the example of a tourism platform that offers deals on flights, the UX/UI should emphasize features that will answer common user concerns, like the number of connections, layover times, luggage restrictions, rules and price adjustments. Central or unique features on the platform are brought to the forefront by clearly defining the visual and functional elements of the UX/UI (detailed below), but success on this frontier necessitates brainstorming on what you want your product to achieve. The rest will flow from there.
2. Drill down your UX/UI in unison, then separately
UX and UI are usually referred to in the same context because they largely address the same issues. So, as mentioned above, while it is good practice to think of an overarching UX/UI philosophy, it is worthwhile giving UX and UI separate consideration.
UX is the feel of the product for the user and refers to the gestures, smoothness, flows, phases and hierarchy of the product’s aspects. Gestures might be one of the more important aspects of UX because they define how the users will physically interact with the product. Tinder is a good example of a mobile application that found that swiping in certain locations are more intuitive and natural actions for the user, thereby disrupting the dating applications niche. Gestures play to another feature of UX which is the smoothness of the interface, or configuring the elements to work together in the same language. Finally, the flows and phases of the product should follow a certain hierarchy, as they do on eCommerce platforms where the user first searches for a product, confirms their choice, provides information, payment details and in the end receives confirmation.
When it comes to UI, or the colors, fonts, size of objects and design elements on the platform, a lot of the decision-making is left up to what is trending. It’s worth doing serious market research to get an understanding of trends in your specific niche, and which design structures perform best with your target audience. For instance, while building my online tourism management platform, I wanted to put an emphasis on using images that create a vacation-like atmosphere before the client even steps foot on a plane.
3. Draw a line between the client and the server
A common issue for mobile applications with massive content is understanding which information is relevant for the mobile client given the limitations of mobile mediums. The process of collecting content from different sources and analyzing it on a server is easy enough, but when it comes to the mobile client, you want to make sure that you have a lean perspective on your data set. It goes without saying that this step is crucial in saving traffic between the server and mobile client and improving the speed and flow of the overall UX. Another aspect to consider is the scalability of your server’s abilities because this makes the difference in supporting tens of users or tens of thousands. The bottom line here is that good UX performance begins with setting up your servers to be lean, efficient and scalable from the get-go.
4. Know the limitations in designing for mobile
Unlike full web versions, mobile presents a number of challenges, the main one being the inability to know which devices are being used by your clients. Therefore, you should try to prepare UX/UI that is cross-platform and responsive to different media, screen sizes, connectivity, and peripherals. In my experience, an application that runs smoothly doesn’t rely on heavy graphics in its UI and keeps the functionality of the UX as intuitive as possible. One way to optimize the UX is to cache reusable data, such as heavy graphic elements, to keep the experience smooth, speedy and concise. That said, my advice is to be careful not to cache too much data because it may affect performance.
The four most important steps in building UX/UI for applications with massive content are: consolidating user philosophy, considering UX/UI separately as if they were stand-alone, ensuring that the server is able to handle the UX/UI experience you want to create, and finally understanding and overcoming the design challenges of mobile platforms. That said, every application is different and so too are its UX/UI requirements, which makes conducting thorough market research a necessary step before beginning the design process.