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Chapter 5: Designing Mobile Interfaces

This chapter isn’t worth reading just now (unless you want to get a feel for how I research and write). I hope to have it finished in August.

As I’ve noted in the overview, this is a work in progress and I’m sharing it here in draft form. The book isn’t finished, but I hope the draft content I’m providing has some value as I finalise the chapters.

Table of Contents

/* This is very rough and needs a day to tidy it all up. I'll Post-It out this chapter and the preceding chapter when I get to Donegal this weekend. [15 May, 2019] */


Cross-reference Luke W's book.

The emergence of mobile contexts has changed interface design dramatically. We now have:

  • Touch
  • Force Touch
  • Voice
  • Etc..



In this chapter, I’ll focus on designing for mobile environments. I’ll stress the benefits of a ‘mobile-first’ approach and introduce the idea of tap targets and reachability.


This chapter should stress the importance of a 'mobile-first' approach and highlight the benefits that this brings. Largely this is about focusing the interface down to the core elements and building from that.

Users are busy, so focus is essential. Your task as a designer is to enable users to get the job done as quickly as possible, ideally:

  1. Minimising interruption; and
  2. Maximising delight.

Delight isn't just about beautiful interactions (animations, for example), it's also about enabling users to get what they need to get done as quickly as possible.

We can learn a lot from content-first sites like GOV.UK, where a considerable amount of time is invested in distilling down complex information so that it's easy to parse and act upon.

A section needs to be dedicated to tap targets and reachability, which in a mobile context are of primary importance.

Section 1: XXXX

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Part 1 goes here…

Section 2: XXXX

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Part 2 goes here…

Section 3: XXXX

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Part 3 goes here…

Section 4: XXXX

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Part 4 goes here…

Section 5: XXXX

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Part 5 goes here…

Further Reading

There are many great publications, offline and online, that will help further underpin your understanding of designing user interfaces for a mobile context. I’ve included a few below to start you on your journey.

  • Luke Wroblewski’s Mobile First – published in 2011 – is rightfully regarded as the book that encouraged designers to adopt a mobile first approach to designing for the web. It might be almost a decade old, but it’s still well worth reading for its focus on the benefits that a mobile first approach offers.

  • Nick Babich’s A Comprehensive Guide To Mobile App Design – sponsored by Adobe and published by the fine folks at Smashing Magazine – complements this chapter perfectly. Babich provides a thoroughly in-depth view of the challenges faced when designing for a mobile context and I’d strongly recommend reading his article, once you’ve completed this chapter.

  • Lastly, Giles Colborne’s Simple and Usable Web, Mobile, and Interaction Design – though not exclusively about designing mobile interfaces – is an excellent book that explores the user experience benefits of embracing simplicity and focusing on usability. It’s a short, sharp read that’s packed with useful advice.

About the Author

Christopher Murphy

Christopher Murphy


A designer, writer and speaker based in Belfast, Christopher mentors purpose-driven businesses, helping them to launch and thrive. He encourages small businesses to think big and he enables big businesses to think small.

As a design strategist he has worked with companies, large and small, to help drive innovation, drawing on his 25+ years of experience working with clients including: Adobe, EA and the BBC.

The author of numerous books, he is currently hard at work on his eighth, ‘Designing Delightful Experiences’, for Smashing Magazine and ninth, ‘Building Beautiful UIs’, for Adobe. Both are accompanied by a wealth of digital resources, and are drawn from Christopher’s 15+ years of experience as a design educator.

I hope you find this resource useful. I’m also currently working on a book for the fine folks at Smashing Magazine – ‘Designing Delightful Experiences’ – which focuses on the user experience design process from start to finish. It will be published in late 2019.

You might like to follow me on Twitter for updates on this book and other projects I’m working on.

Copyright · Mr Murphy + Adobe
Design and Build · Dan Gold + Little Thunder