Common Mobile Interface Myths

Mobile design has been the subject of discussions over the previous years. Undoubtedly, the active sharing of experience and knowledge has helped mobile designers in gaining a better understanding of considerations, pitfalls, and best practices when creating mobile products. At the same time, as with any issue that receives widespread public attention, several myths have appeared surrounding this huge pool of information. As mobile interface remains a dominant topic in design discussions, it is time to talk about some popular myths about its nature and use. In this posting, we have decided to dispel some of common misconceptions about mobile design.


What is Mobile Design?

When we say “mobile design,” we usually mean the one used in tablets and smartphones. However, in its broadest sense, the term “mobile” refers to any technology that allows to access the Web away from fixed access points. Anyway, the mobile Internet and its technical underpinnings are not the subject of this discussion. Our focus here is very much on functionality of mobile devices and how users are relating to it. So let’s check some of the common myths about mobile interfaces that we think must be put to bed.

Misconception #1. Mobile is very different

This is probably one of the most fundamental misconceptions about mobile app design and development. According to this myth, mobile environment differs from desktop environment in many characteristics. As a result, it sometimes seems to be treated as if it was a remote island in the design Ocean. 

Definitely, there are some technological variations and constraints between mobile design and web design, such as display size, interaction controls, etc. Indeed, the mobile design uses specific approaches to optimize the experience across all devices. However, the truth is that it is still the other side of the same user experience coin. 

The users that use mobile interfaces are the same ones using laptops and personal computers. They have the same goals and motives, such as:

  • Designing for their reality
  • Anticipating the needs
  • Shopping
  • Observing and listening to the other people

So basically the guiding principles of mobile environment are the same than those for desktop environment.


Misconception #2. Mobile design has Matured

There is a conventional wisdom that mobile design patterns have reached their saturation, and thus mobile has reached some level of maturity. Unfortunately, it is not quite true. Indeed, some common design patterns have finally settled into their final and recognizable shape. However, mobile functionality continues to evolve and technology continues to change, both in development kits and mobile device capabilities, spurring designers to search for new approaches to address old issues. The overall number of websites that offer a satisfying and full-fledged mobile experience is still relatively low. From this perspective, mobile design cannot be considered mature. There will be a day when we will see the world where we are free to do whatever we want using whatever device is available or convenient for us. But this day is not today.

Misconception #3. Thumbs only

There is a common myth that users’ thumbs are the primary means for most their actions. Indeed, this belief is not absolutely false. The majority of people do use  their thumbs to control and access mobile devices as it is the most convenient way to easily reach anywhere on a mobile-size screen. But when it comes to tablet interaction, things are getting slightly different. The truth is that tablet manipulation is not limited to thumb-only navigation as people are most likely to use these devices at home. This means that they are likely to have both hands free for using them.


Misconception #4. Mobile supports a limited set of tasks

In the early times of mobile computing, connections were expensive and slow, and input was limited to the number. Back in those days, people used to access the Web for an immediate and specific need. That is why some users still believe that mobile design can be used only for a limited set of specific tasks. Gone are those days when is was true. Today, a huge segment of the US people considers mobile devices as a primary means of digital consumption. That is why it is not a good idea to narrow down site options to the bare minimum. If a user sees limited functionality when accessing a site from mobile, his or her reaction is likely to be negative. All your content should be made easily consumable and ready for all devices.

Misconception #5. Mobile users are always distracted

This myth states that mobile users prefer using mobile on the go. As a result, they are usually distracted and do not pay full attention to their devices, using them on the street, where there is physical obstacles like glare and noise. The truth is that people are always more or less distracted. At the same time, more and more of them prefer using mobile in an environment where they can focus on a single task, and thus pay full attention to their device. So the universal solution would be to design for all interfaces and environments in which users operate.


Key Takeaways

With all these changes in technology, we have unlimited opportunities for learning. That is why we do not really need myths. Do not let them confuse you! By leveraging our powers of insight, experimentation, and observation, we can build a truly exciting and relevant experience for people. When it comes to mobile, it is crucial to create a high-quality design, while keeping the UX in mind. At Loonar Studios, we know what it means to be creative and create meaning for users. Contact us if you have any questions.