Mobile research – what do mobile users say?

As is well known, designing for mobile devices involves some standard solutions, such as placing key content and action buttons so that users can “tap” them with their thumb. There are many similar mobile UX principles, but what do the users say about mobile research?

From our experience, including ux research, conversations, and observations, we’ve found that to design a truly useful solution, a design needs to be looked at much more widely than just in the context of what’s within reach of a user’s thumb. Before we look at examples let me remind you…

…why and how do we conduct mobile research?

We can conduct research in conditions typical for the use of a given product, in the laboratory, or remotely.

Currently, due to the pandemic, this last form of talking to users has become a necessity, but it also has its advantages. Remote research is actually different only in that we can hear and see the respondent through video conferencing systems, and the respondent is sometimes asked to install the appropriate app to connect with us and safely go through the process.

This form makes it possible to reach people with whom we would not normally have the opportunity to meet in person, but also – which in some cases is crucial – allows us to conduct user experience research in conditions closest to those in which the user would use the tested solution.

Context is key

Some time ago we conducted mobile research for one of the banks. Our respondents were using their own phones. During the study, we noticed that many of them do not close notifications from other applications that pop up during the test, even if they obscure a significant part of their screen. During the test of browser solutions, we also found that users do not close already viewed pages. Some of the users even had dozens of tabs open, which made it difficult to switch between them.

Mobile research - EDISONDA

These factors significantly limited the amount of information that users could ultimately see in the tested application, which was not taken into account at all when designing the solution. Interestingly, if the study had been conducted on a test phone in a lab, this additional aspect probably would not have been captured.


It is worth remembering that users do not use our solutions in a contextual vacuum. Notifications from other applications can obscure a large part of their screen, distract them during the process or cause them to temporarily abandon the application. The designer should keep this in mind and design the solution to give the user the ability to quickly return to the task they started without losing previously entered data.

How, where, when?

For one of our clients, we designed a very specific system for operating production machines. User experience research we conducted with machine operators showed that they often work at night in poorly lit rooms. Thanks to this information, we decided on a dark interface for the system, which relieved their eyes and allowed them to quickly catch alerts.

Mobile research - EDISONDA


If you are designing an interface for a specialized application, always consider how much time the user will spend with the product, at what time of day (or night), and under what circumstances. Consider non-standard factors, such as those related to security.

Exaggeration does not pay off?

It is good to avoid form over substance. Our research shows that in urgent or nervous situations, the average user, even with access to modern and seemingly faster solutions for contact (chatbots or voice assistants), looking for help will still choose the old, proven ways, such as calling the hotline. However, it’s worth giving him maximum comfort and more useful and really needed possibilities.

From our experience

It sometimes happens that some innovative and previously underestimated features will become popular or even indispensable as a result of unusual conditions. An example is an increase in popularity of a new feature of InPost, which consists of remote opening of a box from the application level. Our research shows that earlier users treated this option as a kind of curiosity, which was commonly used only by hard-core users of parcel machines and people who are more easily convinced by innovative solutions. Who could have expected that in just a few months contactless machines will be so desired?


Therefore, isn’t it worth looking for new, interesting solutions? Of course, it is! However, in order for a feature that has the potential to revolutionise the way things are done in the application to actually have a chance to make things easier and more delightful for the user, it needs to be well tested first, and then convince users of it, e.g. through short onboarding.

Mobile does not reflect the desktop

Research we conducted for one of the large sporting goods store chains confirmed that users use their phones to browse products. They search, use comparison sites, and read reviews, but they finalise the purchase on a laptop or desktop computer. This behaviour is not age-dependent, the youngest generation still often uses this pattern.


Knowing when and how users switch between different devices is an important aspect that should influence how we think about designing elements in an app or desktop version. In the case of e-commerce, it is important that subsequent sub-pages on a smartphone (e.g. product details) automatically open in new tabs rather than the same one (the opposite of the desktop), which allows for easier comparison of a large number of products while browsing. On the other hand in the desktop version, the layout of the elements and the way they are opened should lead the user to finalise the purchase. Any additional functionality is rather an option that the customer can use, but the system does not impose it on them.

Factory settings in mobile are becoming extinct

Recently we had an opportunity to study content sent to users via text messages. The analysis with respondents aged 50+ showed that due to deteriorating eyesight a large part of them set a large font size, which makes it easier for them to read text messages. This kind of display significantly increased the interest in the content after opening the text message we sent.


Individual phone settings significantly affect the reception of received messages sent to users in different forms. Of course, the design of the notification is very important here, because often the content does not fit on a single mobile screen and requires scrolling. In this case, the most important links and information should be provided at the beginning.


How to design a really useful mobile solution? There is no clear answer to this question because everything depends on the purpouse of the application, portal, or system and its recipients. However, it is important to always look wider – define and get to know the target user and the context (time and environment) in which they function, and above all analyze their real needs related to the designed solution. It’s also worth constantly thinking about product development… not forgetting prototyping, testing, and research, of course.

The article was originally published in Online Marketing Polska magazine.

Want to find out how users are using your app?