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10 top mobile app usability issues

While UX is a crucial part of the actual experience of a user, a mobile app’s usability should always be a priority. 

But don’t confuse UX with usability.

UX covers the overall relationship between the user and the product. While usability is an aspect of this relationship, it focuses solely on the efficiency and simplicity of achieving the goals of an app.

There are many usability issues that plague modern-day mobile apps. But when time is of the essence, what are the top issues that you should pay attention to?

10 top mobile app usability issues

1. Rejecting different resolutions

Besides paying attention to different operating systems  – and their versions – mobile app developers also need to remember that different devices have different mobile screen sizes and resolutions. Not doing so can be disastrous as an app might look perfect on one device and broken on another. Even if it’s the exact same operating system. 

In the past, developers usually only needed to focus on various Android screen-resolution specific issues. That’s certainly not the case anymore… adding to the resources needed to fully test usability.

2. Unnecessary navigation

Mobile app usability promotes learnability (people’s understanding/learning of how the app works). As such, using your app should be simple. Users need to clearly understand how to navigate your app with as few barriers as possible. Even if users encounter problems, a solution should be easily findable. 

Great features but not organized in an intuitive way? Actions hidden behind gestures? Consider onboarding to guide the users through your app. That said, if your app needs a guide, perhaps that’s a red flag there’s already a fundamental usability problem. 

At the end of the day, the shorter the amount of time a user needs to get to know the interface, the more usable it is.

3. Endless tap trap

Nobody wants to hassle with endless typing or tapping for a single task. Each action an app requires is yet another hurdle towards completing the end-user’s goal. 

Examine each action and see if there’s a simpler way to make the experience more natural. 
The fewer steps, pages, buttons, fields, etc… the better.

4. They see me scrollin’

Everybody scrolls. Mobile scrolling is an important aspect of good design as users need an intuitive interface letting them scroll with ease. That said, developers should prioritize the most important information within the limits of their screen. 

And under no uncertainty should side-scrolling be used as it generally hides valuable content. 

Additionally, think of how users actually use their devices… one-handed and on the go. As such, design your app in a way that main actions would be usable with just the thumb.

5. Lacking landscape mode

A good mobile app should be designed for both portrait and landscape to accommodate for optimal usability and UX. Unfortunately, when mobile apps were first being designed, many developers learned they should only be programmed to use multiple orientations if it was useful. Today — with various app functions and mobile device sizes, users expect regard both orientations are necessary. 

But beyond simply checking a box and calling this mode done, many experts agree that different approaches to the UI / UX of each orientation should be considered. This is especially imperative if your app contains video content.

6. Incomplete onboarding

Once someone opens your app, they need to know how to use it. The best way to do this is through onboarding; allowing new users to understand and engage with your app enough to keep using it, instead of abandoning it. 

If your app is simple or self-explanatory, it may not need onboarding. But if it contains non-standard interactions or has a fairly complex workflow, you should consider incorporating some sort of onboarding.

7. Confusing content

When designing a mobile app, content should be simplified… but not forgotten. Too much information will undoubtedly result in poor UX. Too little, and a user may not be able to complete their task. Choose the right content, relevant to the user. 

It should also be presented in a clear and concise way, with as little pinching and zooming as possible.

8. No auto-filled user info

From e-commerce to social apps, how many times have you had to repeatedly input your personal details? Annoying, right? Apps without auto-fill data are considered to have poor usability. Simply put: if your mobile application employs user-submitted data, auto-filling is important is an important feature. 

Auto-suggestion is a powerful way to reduce data input and help users to get instant search results. Additionally, ensure the auto-fill option is accessible, with a clearly visible edit button.

9. Unresponsive gestures

10. Forgoing user feedback

While it’s always better to test rather than assume what users prefer, why not go straight to the source?

From dark mode to font sizes, collect user feedback outside your company testers and determine user wants and needs as well as any obstacles found within the app. 

If you can’t pay anything, pay attention

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