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Four mobile UX design mistakes to avoid

The user experience can make or break an app, so strong mobile UX design is of utmost importance in today's enterprise development teams.

More than any other factor, mobile UX design determines the success or failure of enterprise apps.

In the age of consumerization, workers have high expectations for apps. Those who find an enterprise app too difficult or complex will often stop using it and turn to a consumer-focused alternative that offers clean design and efficient workflows. And those who continue to use the enterprise app could end up being less productive.

To better understand where the enterprise might be going wrong, look at four common user experience (UX) design mistakes that can result in the creation of inadequate mobile apps.

1. Forgetting about user needs

In many cases, the mobile UX design process fails to take into account the users' wants and needs. The development team often waits too long to consider the user perspectives or forgets that perspective altogether. Instead, software engineers and product managers may make assumptions about their users, and then base their mobile app UX designs on those assumptions.

Those on the development side need to make a better effort at finding out what users need and how they work. Unfortunately, that's easier said than done. Users want tools with the same intuitive functionality of consumer apps, but they often find it difficult to communicate their specific needs -- especially when faced with the language and processes that developers and designers use.

The onus is on the development team to conduct the necessary analysis to fully understand the target audience, using surveys, focus groups and other types of outreach. Once developers have this understanding, they can use it to improve the mobile app UX. Testing new features early in the process can help avoid disasters later on.

2. Not establishing a clear purpose

When working with an app, users should be able to quickly and easily understand its purpose and workflow, as well as how it connects into existing systems. They must be able to see how the app is going to make their lives easier by simplifying day-to-day tasks. An effective app will anticipate users' requirements, providing the features and data they need when they need them, but without being intrusive.

An app must be fully integrated into current workflows while, at the same time, streamlining those processes. Mobile UX design is not only about how users interface with on-screen features, but also about how well the app integrates with other systems in the corporate environment. Security, authentication, reliability and accessibility are as much UX concerns as are menu options and buttons.

3. Flunking Usability 101

Users want an interface that is neither too complex nor overly engineered -- a minimalist app they can use from the get-go, without taking months to master.

A mobile app should not attempt to mimic desktop software.

To this end, developers should avoid introducing any unusual elements or unexpected gestures, defaulting instead to industry standards for actions such as opening files and navigating from screen to screen. A mobile app is no place for designers and developers to show off their skills, unless those skills can explicitly improve the UX.

Enterprise apps should not be loaded up with extra features just because they might be nice to have. Those features can cause confusion, increase complexity and add unnecessary overhead that hurts performance.

To give users the best experience, an app should break complex processes into digestible tasks, and then break each of those tasks into simple, intuitive steps. A mobile app should not attempt to mimic desktop software. In some cases, it might be better to create multiple apps, rather than overload a single app with features and functionality.

4. Ignoring device features and requirements

A smartphone or tablet's native features, such as GPS capabilities and a built-in camera, can significantly improve the mobile app UX. For example, developers might use the camera to implement scanning capabilities, so users don't have to manually input information from an external source.

At the same time, an app should not negatively affect other applications or the device as a whole. Developers need to fully test their apps under a variety of circumstances to ensure compatibility with whichever devices and platforms they plan to support. Users expect their mobile apps to install and load quickly, without any hiccups, and for all the features and data to be there when they need it.

Once an app rolls out to users, the development team should monitor its performance to ensure it remains reliable and operates as expected.

The importance of mobile app UX

An enterprise app that does not factor in UX is destined to fail. Without strong mobile UX design, an app can cause productivity to drop, and users may outright reject the app. The better the user experience, the more likely employees will use the app, work more efficiently and deliver the expected return on investment.

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