Essential Mobile App Design Usability Factors

The goal of many mobile apps is to create a system that speaks the language of the user, leveraging familiar concepts to deliver something that feels new and unexpected – even delightful. This can be challenging to accomplish but aligning with a specific set of usability factors can increase freedom of design elements and deliver the ideal outcome. In breaking down the elements – whether text or imagery, creating pathways to engagement through gesture-driven actions such as clicks, taps and swipes can make the experience interactive but intuitive.

Optimizing a mobile environment to be predictable and consistent while maintaining engagement and comprehension is a multi-faceted task. Understanding user personas and clear pathways in previous steps can help to increase usability at a faster delivery rate.


Because it’s the first point of contact, onboarding is arguably the most important component of mobile app design strategy. The goal of onboarding is to introduce the purpose of the app and its functionality. In some ways, onboarding can be seen as hand-holding, but it is quite the opposite – it’s providing the users with the tools leading to their autonomy of using the app.

Information Hierarchy

Information should be broken down into clearly defined and digestible sections. Organize sections by how a user would search for the information – in this case – user pathway testing with regard to user experience may be conducted. The most important information should be graphically highlighted in the first couple of sentences, with the supporting information to follow. In this case, headlines are the most important piece of the puzzle.


Mapping how each user moves through the design will uncover areas that are working and areas that need optimization. Identifying stuck, hesitant and abandoned points then developing strategies through journey mapping and interaction design can dramatically increase cognition, conversion, and engagement.


From typing in your address to verifying email credentials – typing on a tiny screen, no matter how well designed, can be a pain. Especially relevant to ECommerce, the process should be as simple as possible. Steps can be simplified by integrating an alternate app’s login or paring down choice.

Aside from the overarching benefit of providing the user with a well-functioning app, the principles of design are critically important to making tasks as easy as possible and shortening time to conversion. Speaking in the language of the user while maintaining brand voice will provide the cues to bring the experience full circle and promote longevity.

Vanessa Petersen

As Executive Director of Brand Strategy based in ArtVersion’s Portland office, Vanessa manages both national and West Coast accounts. She brings with her a passion for strategy with extensive experience in creative marketing, brand growth and development. She is a true advocate of storytelling and brand building from the inside out, and her keen knowledge of the marketplace, trend patterns and usability lead her to identify opportunities that can inspire powerful design strategies.

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