A good mobile navigation design should be intuitive and simple to help the user find what they want as easily as possible. There are many tools that designers use to create a navigation system in a mobile application, but only a fraction of them actually serve their purpose.
In this article, we break down the most effective UI components and explain why they work.
What is mobile app navigation
Navigation is how users interact with the application, design, and move from one interface item to another. It can be compared to a road system: the application has dozens of highways that direct users in the direction they want.
The navigation design of any product is one of the main points of development. As a navigation goal, many prescribe the movement of users in the shortest possible time, but the user’s path should not only be fast, but also logical and simple.
What mobile navigation should be
Clear and intuitive
People don’t want to think about what buttons are for and where links lead. From the point of view of convenience, it is enough for them to make the navigation simple and clear. The conducted research, the formed user profile and knowledge of behavior patterns will help to create such navigation.
The application should be user-friendly with any finger size. No one should waste time clicking the icon several times trying to go to the desired page. Therefore, the links and buttons in the application should be large enough that most people can click any of them the first time. The universal button size is 10 mm.
It is also important to consider the distance between navigation items. Users must have enough free space to avoid clicking on other buttons next to them.
With legible content
The phone screen is much smaller than the computer screen, so readability problems can arise, as in many applications, even the icons from the hamburger menu are accompanied by text. Don’t make users lose their eyesight trying to read text on links and buttons.
Size really matters in mobile navigation, so you need to spend time testing and checking how users interact with the app. Invest time and effort in prototyping to recreate realistic navigation and fix any mistakes ahead of time.
An article on what prototypes are…
With orderly and visual hierarchy
Small screens are much easier to make clutter, so the design of mobile apps requires you to ditch the secondary elements (or place them in the menu). In the case of mobile apps, designers choose a minimalistic design that does not clutter up the interface with unnecessary graphic elements.
UI components for mobile apps
In the limited space of a mobile interface, a hamburger menu will help hide complex navigation to avoid distractions. In addition, the hamburger menu is familiar to almost all users and has its advantages: they already know what it is, how it works and what to expect. Familiar elements in the product interface help the user to relax and learn new things more easily.
Bottom navigation in the app
The bottom navigation helps you to use the application freely and to hold the phone comfortably in your hands, so it allows you to reach certain points with a single tap of your finger. And if you use no more than five points, it reduces user fatigue and saves screen space.
Top navigation in the app
It also consists of a navigation bar, but is located at the top of the screen and is usually used in conjunction with other tools. For example, it is used for primary links that remain visible when scrolling, and for secondary links, the bottom bar or hamburger menu.
App navigation based on gestures
Gesture-based navigation allows users to quickly swipe in the desired direction to navigate an application or perform specific actions. It has been around for decades as a UI navigation template, but it only gained popularity with the popular dating app Tinder, where you can swipe left or right to match.
Gesture navigation helps you navigate between scenes in the app, and gestures to touch and drag horizontally and vertically, zoom in and out. This creates an interactive and dynamic user experience.
This interface pattern is easy to understand even for an inexperienced user, since gestures are often intuitive and require few steps to get the right result.
Full screen navigation of mobile apps
While the previous templates in the list boil down to minimal use of screen space, full-screen navigation suggests the opposite approach: here almost all of the screen is devoted to mobile navigation only. This approach helps guide users from general to specific sections of the product.
This kind of navigation can be a little tedious, but designers use a clear visual hierarchy so as not to overwhelm the user. This method has its drawbacks, but it helps the person to see all product features and choices at a glance.
Cards in the user interface can make the application even more user-friendly. They come in all shapes and sizes and are a great way to show different elements in one place: text boxes, links, or photos. They also help users immediately notice when the screen can be scrolled horizontally, which improves the overall usability. Another plus is that they can be easily adjusted to fit any screen size, which is great for responsive apps.
3D Touch was first introduced by Apple. The company began to use a shortcut that reflects the main actions for the selected application.
Another common use for such mobile navigation is for content previews. When working with a list of content suggestions, such as an email or article list, this can be a good way to provide a preview to the user.
The purpose of navigation is to help users achieve the purpose for which they are using the application. Knowing their preferences and taking into account the limited screen space, you can create convenient navigation and high-quality UX.