UX Design Essentials for Mobile Curriculum

Standard three-day version

Day 1 (8:30 am – 5:00 pm)

Part 1: Why mobile user experience matters

An introduction to the course and a quick business case for why mobile apps and sites are crucial today. Makes the case for why investing in a great user experience is important, from both the customer and business point of view.

Part 2: Review the existing app (optional)

Review the mobile or desktop app or site that we will be designing or updating throughout the workshop.

Designing for mobile

Part 3: What not to do

Explores how not to design for mobile by looking at how a variety of attempts have failed. Bottom line: Great mobile design is not about attempting to shrink your desktop app or site to a mobile device. Rather, you must take full advantage of the mobile device to quickly and efficiently deliver the top mobile scenarios.

Part 4: Making it mobile

Learn specifically what makes a great mobile app. Contrasts how mobile is different from desktop, the essential elements of a great mobile experience, and the Mobile First design concept.

Part 5: Mobile capabilities and constraints

Covers the capabilities and limitations of the mobile device hardware, along with their implications. Also compares native mobile apps to mobile web, and helps you choose which to use. (Hint: Technology isn’t the only factor!)

Part 6: Touch and small (and increasingly larger) screens

Covers how to design for smaller, touch-based screens. Learn that while responsive design is an important technology, it solves only one of many challenges in designing for mobile. Explores smartphone holding patterns, designing for a single hand, and forgiveness. Covers techniques to avoid typing and guidelines for using gestures.

A user-centered design process

Part 7: A mobile design process

Learn a basic design process that you can apply to any design problem. The top goal is to get beyond feature-based design (“sketching a pile of features”.) The process steps include understanding your users and their goals, tasks, and problems, performing and interpreting user research, exploring design alternatives, and brainstorming. A focus is avoiding the classic process mistakes that everyone tends to make.

Part 8: Mobile value propositions

Value propositions express the reasons why users will want to use and buy your app. Learn how to use value propositions as a user-centered decision-making framework, and how delivering value is crucial to successful mobile apps. Explore how the mobile value proposition is rarely about doing everything that the desktop app does.

Part 9: Mobile scenarios

A scenario describes a specific target user trying to achieve a specific goal or task in a specific environment. Scenarios are the most powerful user-centered design technique and strong scenario work is often the difference between a good UX and a great UX. Yet most teams either don’t design using scenarios or are just going through the motions. Learn how to do scenario-based design right!

Part 10: Mobile personas

Personas are fake people based on real user data. While potentially an excellent user-centered design tool, personas usually fail to live up to their potential because teams don’t use them effectively. Concise user modeling is the key. Covers the attributes mobile personas must include (such as the gestures they know and expect.) Learn how to use personas right!

Day 2 (8:30 am – 5:00 pm)

Making a design “intuitive”

Part 11: UI is communication

A user interface is essentially a conversation between users and a product to perform tasks that achieve users’ goals—except that it uses the language of UI instead of natural language. Intuitive UI boils down to communicating to users in a way that is natural, professional and friendly, and easy to understand.

If you can explain how to perform a task in person in a way that’s clear and concise, the UI is Communication concept will help you map that explanation into the language of UI—both in terms of interaction and visual design—in a way that feels intuitive.

Part 12: Make it intuitive

This part defines exactly what it means to be intuitive and explains the attributes of an intuitive UI.

Part 13: Use the right controls

Controls are the language of UI. Learn how to choose the right controls based on the nature of the user’s input and how to use controls effectively.

Making designs simple, beautiful, and delightful

Part 14: Make it simple and focused

Simplicity is the reduction or elimination of design elements that target users are aware of and consider unessential. Focus is crucial for successful mobile apps. Many designers strive for simple UIs conceptually, but when it comes to making the hard decisions the tendency is toward complexity. Learn exactly what simplicity is and how to get it, along with why it’s so hard for teams to achieve simplicity. (Hint: It’s easier to say “yes” than “no”.)

Part 15: Make it look great

The secret to making a UI look great is to hire a visual designer and that’s what most teams should do. However, hiring a visual designer isn’t practical for many teams and many teams lack the knowledge to work with visual designers effectively. Learn a non-designer’s guide to designing a beautiful UI through visual simplicity. Also learn the fundamentals of layout and how to design a page for scanning.

Part 16: Make it delightful

Great user experiences are designed for people, not technology. Learn the role of human emotion and perception in design, and how to achieve delight through special experiences, having a good software personality, forgiveness, having good performance, and trustworthiness. You will also learn how to make sure your product is well polished.

Mobile guidelines

Part 17: Mobile web guidelines

Summarizes general mobile guidelines, focusing on forms, fields, navigation, and lists.

Part 18: Native app guidelines

Summarizes the iOS and Android design principles and guidelines, as well as how Android apps are designed differently. A great Android app goes beyond simply porting an iOS app.

Part 19: How to design like Apple and Google

Briefly compares and contrasts Apple’s design philosophy to Google’s, with examples.

Communicating design

Part 20: Design communication techniques: sketches and prototypes

Learn the techniques used to communicate design ideas. Learn the pros and cons of sketching vs. prototypes, along with the prototyping levels (low, mid, high fidelity), when to use them, and why low fidelity is usually best. Learn the rules of effective prototyping and the attributes of good prototyping tools. Learn how the goals of mobile design require you to prototype differently than for desktop design.

Day 3 (8:30 am – 5:00 pm)

Putting it all together

Part 21: Intuitive tasks

Introduces a concept called inductive UI, where tasks and pages are designed to be self-explanatory. Shows an extremely simple design technique that gives enormous insight on how to design better pages and flows.

Part 22: Task flows

Learn how to decompose complex tasks into steps and how to present them using mobile task flow patterns. Presents a user model for efficient task navigation, and makes that case that a simple, consistent navigation models usually work best for most users. Covers top task flow mistakes with examples.

Part 23: Screen design

Learn a process for designing screens by clearly communicating the task, analyzing the user interaction and choosing the right controls, helping users make informed decisions, getting the details right, and handling errors.

Workshop exercise

Part 24: Scenario design challenge (2 hours)

Time to put everything together by designing a solution to your top mobile scenario. The process is broken into three phases to help you apply all the tools and techniques that you have learned in the course. This design challenge is performed in teams of 4 – 6.

Evaluating designs and usability

Part 25: How to evaluate a UI

Learn effective design evaluation techniques to improve your design and when to use them. Evaluation techniques covered include several mobile specific techniques, plus usability studies, cognitive walkthroughs, highlighter tests, five second tests, and scanning reviews.

Part 26: Informal usability studies

Usability studies are the gold standard for design evaluation techniques. Learn how to improve your product by preparing and conducting an informal usability study with target users. Learn the process, how to design effective tests, and interpret and apply the results.

Part 27: Giving and receiving feedback

Learn how to give and receive effective feedback so that your team can do its best work.

Course review and wrap-up

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