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UX design principles for mobile and tablet devices

  • Published on January 15, 2015
UX design principles for mobile and tablet devices

Mobile and tablet devices require principles for user experience design that tailor the experience for smaller screen sizes, touch, and unique use-case scenarios. Fully incorporating mobile design principles into your apps or websites enhances the user experience, and streamlines the developmental process. By embracing mobile ux design principles you are able to provide solutions that work well for users along with the business or organization supporting the development process.

UX design principles for mobile devices

Unique mobile principles that impact user experience should be considered from the initial planning phase through the design and development process. These include:

  • The close relationship between users and their devices. Users take their mobile devices everywhere. This creates use case scenarios that are unlike every other device.
  • Screen size. The limited screen size plays a significant role in how information can be effectively presented.
  • Touch-target size. Buttons and controls must be able to be easily seen and accessed.
  • Distance between controls and buttons. Fingers can be clumsy, and the distance between the controls must support easily clicking, sliding, and swiping without affecting other controls.
  • Consistent use of icons. Use icons that users understand, and consistently between screens and pages.

Where can I learn UX design principles for mobile and tablets

Most major mobile device manufacturer’s offer UX guidelines. From Android to Windows Phone, you’ll find UX guidelines from the operating systems developers. These are a great place to start, as you can learn principles that apply to the specific operating system for which you are designing.

To learn broader UX skills that apply across all mobile and tablet platforms, there are UX classes, along with user experience workshops and training programs. Understanding the core principles to design an effective mobile user interface is key, regardless of where and how you learn.

How knowing UX principles for mobile and tablets assists you

Using mobile design principles creates an effective way to create meaningful experiences from the inception of the project. Reducing the amount of time wasted in the design, development, and prototyping process.

A user experience course or UX workshop is one place to start. You can find classes that are focused on the needs of those that are new to mobile app design. Alternatively, for developers looking to enhance their craft, there are many opportunities available for learning mobile UX, ranging from short-term programs at community colleges through comprehensive longer-term programs at universities.

UX workshops emphasize how entire teams must work together from the research stage through final review and testing. If you are new to understanding these principles, you’ll find that you can increase both the effectiveness of your designs and productivity of your teams by applying many of the principles discussed in the UX courses, such as providing clear documentation, and thinking about the scenarios in which the app or website you are creating will be used.

About the author

 is a user experience designer, Photoshop expert, educator and author based in Boston. She is the author of more than 20 books on design tools and processes, including Adobe Creative Cloud for Dummies, Adobe Creative Cloud Digital Classroom, and Photoshop Digital Classroom. She has been awarded a Microsoft MVP three times for her work with user experience design in creating apps for touch, desktop, and mobile devices. Jennifer holds the CPUX-F credential from the UXQB.

Jennifer delivers UX training and UX consulting for large Fortune 100 companies, small start-ups, and independent software vendors. She has been hired by Adobe and Microsoft to deliver training workshops to their staff, and has traveled to Asia, Europe, India, the Middle East, and across the U.S. to deliver courses and assist on UX design projects. She has extensive knowledge of modern UX Design, and worked closely with the Microsoft Windows team to create educational material and deliver UX workshops to key partners globally on behalf of Microsoft. Jennifer works with a wide range of prototyping tools including XD, Sketch, Balsamiq, Fireworks, Photoshop, Illustrator, and Blend for Visual Studio. She also works extensively in the fields of presentation design and visual design.